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 Post subject: Squared trigger guards
PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 7:46 am 
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The squared trigger guard is one of those things that represents a certain 1911 cutomization era, somewhat like having a 1911 slide with S&W sights. People are still diggin’ on the retro look of the squared TG; it adds a look and even if you don’t use it, there’s no downside. Other mods from that time frame like the above-mentioned sight and, some would argue, the full-length guide rod, bring no functional or ergonomic advantage, just nostalgia. We see less of these which I believe is because they actually bring some disadvantages, abniet minor, depending on the individual and the intended use of the gun.

The squared TG, I got on that train right away, since all the top shooters were doing it. It also was something I thought I could do well on the gunsmithing side so I looked for opportunities to do it to anyone’s gun I could! The actual use, in shooting, of the squared TG is almost totally passe these days. You rarely see professionals doing it any more although there are a few. I think a big part of it is the inconvenience of becoming dependent upon it, and then having to use a gun without it.

I personally do, very much, still like the look of it although I have not used it since maybe the late ‘80’s. I have one friend who is still very locked-in to the technique (see High Mileage Comes to Town). For myself it was the above mentioned issue of not wanting to get tuned it to it to the point where “I can’t shoot that gun, the trigger guard is not squared and checkered”. Also, holsters. Lou Alessi made me a few specials for squared TG’s but it became just too much of a pain.

But…. I still totally love the look of a squared TG. Jason does them so very well and I enjoy those pics. It had been a while since I’d done one, so I was not about to decline doing it for this guy. But first a couple of my early attempts:

This one is from 1981 and is a re-do; I originally did it right after I bought this gun in, I believe, 1976. I had read a “how to” article by George C. Nonte, and tried my hand at it in Dad’s basement shop. It turned out fine but as I matured as a toolmaker I went through a phase of doing everything by EDM. I also had more access to things like good TIG welding. Where the original version had been silver-brazed in place, this one is TIG’d on and the gripping pattern is EDM’d on.
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This one’s from a few years later, 1983, and I never really completed this project:
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And the current one. The bottom horizontal still has about a three-thousandth “belly” in it—just enough to see—that has since been stoned out. Mid-FRAG on the front
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 11:03 pm 
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I like a square trigger guard. Did a few myself back in the day. Ron Power sells a TG squaring tool that works well. That's what I used. One pro uses a similar tool with a slightly larger diameter button which leaves a little larger radius in the corner. Of course Jason welds in a new piece on his. Considering how wonky some Colt TGs are that is almost a must do for some of them.

Which process do you use?

And what's up with that slide stop in the first photo? Going all Pachmayr-esque on us?


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 6:15 am 
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What method do I use-- both :shock:

First I try to forge it out and when that fails I weld a piece in! You're exactly right about how Colt TG's are-- all of them really-- some are pretty skinny and inconsistent, others have lots of metal to work with. This one was borderline and I didn't think forging it would work but I hadda try.

I ran across a pic of an old CT Brian gun the other day that had one. I'll bet Tim hasn't done one in a while either-- Tim?

The tapped hole in the slide stop was for a holster experiment based on something I saw from the six-shooter days where a stud was screwed to the gun (two in this case). The studs engaged detents on a slab holster so you only had to move the gun about 1/2" to clear leath.... um, plastic.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 7:05 am 
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I have my own idea about who started the squared trigger guard trend.... I'd like to know what others think.... I know we have some virtual 1911 historians around here..... I'm going to say Austin Behlert.

What's interesting is that like it or not, and as passé as it is (my opinion anyway), its influence is seen to this day in a great many factory guns.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 8:59 am 
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Gee, I feel like I am at the table with the "big boys" Ned! I love the squaring of TG. The shooting gurus, the Vickers et al of the world are not huge fans of squaring from a "practical shooting" point of view, but as an aesthetic they have IMHO a nice look, and clearly represent the time energy and effort of someone like you or Jason Burton to create the square where one did not exist before. Over my lifetime, I have come to decide in many things in life there is aesthetic and then function and reliability. Anymore, I look at any watch that cost more than a thousand dollars as being jewelry, nice cool jewelry, but at a point it goes from function to aesthetic.
True custom gunsmithing seems to be a balance between the two, and the higher the price point of the platform, the more attention to aesthetic and "look" there is. I've been fortunate enough at times to afford nice and custom worked pistols, at least to have for a while, shoot and then pass on down the road. I've had more that one that there was nothing visually obvious about them, but they were tuned and reliable, and I would trust their reliability to perform under any circumstance.
I have a friend who has own several Austin Behlert customs I have been lucky enough to get to hold feel and play with and admire some of his work. Clearly both function, and art. Swenson comes to mind, the earliest squared TG I saw were his creation, but that was before I learned of and experienced Behlert's work. Paul Liebenberg also comes to mind as one of the masters of the classic look. At one time I actually paid for a "custom build" but I confess I was a touch disappointed when that gunsmith, who I still like and hold in high regard, dismissed my interest in a squared guard as a vogue whose time had passed. Now days I have seen him doing a few square TG again. No hit no foul, I'm glad gunsmiths are again open the notion of a square TG even if the practical shooters of the world say it doesn't help performance. A square TG looks good!
If nothing else I suppose this would fit the old auto adage- give it time, and fins will be "in" on cars again! Everything old is new again!

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 8:57 am 
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Ironically, meanwhile you can pay to have the hook removed from the trigger guard removed of your Glock!


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 8:15 pm 
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quote="Ned Christiansen"]
I ran across a pic of an old CT Brian gun the other day that had one. I'll bet Tim hasn't done one in a while either-- Tim?[/quote]

I haven't done it for some time, Nedly. Is the pic you're referring to the gun below? If so, I built this one in 1991, and the gent that it came from kept it UNFIRED since he took possession when I built it - over 26 years ago!!! Looks like he finally decided to sell it. Talk about someone being able to purchase 'new old stock'!


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2017 7:27 am 
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I did see that beauty somewhere. To me that thing is a classic, and yeah, the ultimate NOS for sure. Whoever gets it ought to shoot some bowling pins with it!


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2017 8:33 am 
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I've done a couple of them, but not for quite a few years. I tried the heat and bend with a homemade Power type tool, but wasn't successful, so just had it welded up and recut it. I like the look but as you said Ned, the holsters can be a problem, though several years ago, I was fortunate enough to have the late Gordon Davis move his shop here about 3 miles from me, and we became friends. At that time, I had a customer who wanted a squared trigger guard and happened to mention it to Gordon, and he pointed out that all the 1911 holsters he made were sewn into a square around the guard vs. a radius. Unfortunately, health issues caused him to close his shop and he moved to the Tucson area where a daughter lives and died several years later. Like you, I still like the look.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2017 9:02 am 
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When done well a squared trigger guard is a cool visual addition and I have found the look can be made to fit in with almost any style of build. I didn’t do my first squared guard until 2013 but since then I’ve gotten to do a bunch more... currently it might be one of my favorite modifications to do but it's gotta look right or otherwise it looks just wrong. :lol:

I’ve always cut the center of the guard and made an insert, the inherent consistency of that method is attractive to me. I do have a desire to try heating and bending one too. The thickness of the existing guard becomes the big variable... but like Ned mentioned, if bending it fails you just revert to making and installing the insert.

As far shooting goes I have found squared guards, when done right, are an advantage. The lengthened bottom of the guard allows me to ‘pick up’ my support side hand sooner as I am driving the gun to the target. However, the biggest advantage comes when the bottom of the guard is checkered... this adds a significant amount of traction for the support side hand and locks the gun in place. Another way to aid that is by angling the bottom of the guard to have a bit of ‘drop’ at the front. I picked that trick up from one of my main shooting compadres who still likes a squared guard on his guns in part for that reason.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2017 10:41 am 
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I took a look at my one 1911 with a squared trigger guard. It's a Combat Commander that Armand Swenson built for me. I asked for the squared trigger guard because . . . well, it was the cool thing to do back then. But with my smallish hands and short fingers, it turned out that my grip wasn't really improved when I tried to reach the squared front. Still cool, though.

And as well built as it was/is, the detail/finishing execution is not up to what you guys are doing nowadays. Seems the wait was about as long though :lol:

P.S. Dug out the invoice. That squared (& checkered) trigger guard cost me an extra $45!! But then, it was a few years ago.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2017 6:49 pm 
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OK Buzz, now dig out the camera......


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 9:11 am 
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Ned Christiansen wrote:
OK Buzz, now dig out the camera......


Not the best photo, but you get the idea.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 11, 2017 7:53 am 
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Nice! Wow, how many guys have Swensons, and of that group how many are the guys that originally ordered it and still have the paper on it?


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 11, 2017 8:53 am 
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Ned Christiansen wrote:
Nice! Wow, how many guys have Swensons, and of that group how many are the guys that originally ordered it and still have the paper on it?


It will probably com as no surprise that I still have Swenson built guns in my collection. I came along to the custom 1911 world too late to get one from him originally (he died in 1995) but I have owned a bunch of them in all different flavors and I have photographed, inspected, and cataloged many more.

I think I have 4 in the shop right now for various things.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 11, 2017 8:35 pm 
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You're right, it comes as no surprise.

Prob'ly no big surprise that I'm a little envious :mrgreen:


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2017 6:51 am 
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My Hoag 6" Master Grade has a squared trigger guard, and the 5" Master Grade I just bought has one too. I do not know what method Hoag used, and will have to pull the 6" out of the safe and look over it with my Optivisor. Like many/most, I do not shoot with my finger up there, but do like the look.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2017 7:24 am 
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OldLawman wrote:
My Hoag 6" Master Grade has a squared trigger guard, and the 5" Master Grade I just bought has one too. I do not know what method Hoag used...


As I recall he heated them up and formed them.... and in my opinion his squared guards were the most consistent and best of that era.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2017 8:23 am 
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Thinking back now, it might just have been a Hoag that I first saw in a magazine. I met him one year at the Steel Challenge and he was most cordial. Unfortunately we didn't talk gunsmithing much, I'm sure it was because I did not feel worthy, but he did look at the .38 Super I was using and had practically finished on the plane, and complimented me on it (which I fully realize he would have felt required to do!).

Jason, Old L., surely you have pics somewhere....? Maybe a new thread is in order to feature the work of the above mentioned gents and some others. I have a lot oc pics of Behlert guns if I can just find them. Add names as you guys see fit, but-- how about a timeframe of, say, up to 1982? 85?

Austin Behlert / Behlert Precision
Armand Swenson
Jim Hoag
Jim Boland

.... who else?


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 14, 2017 11:18 am 
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More than happy to furnish my pictures, but most are taken with my iPhone and I don't know how to manipulate them to the proper size (mine usually show up too big).

I have an original Hoag catalog to go with mine.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 15, 2017 7:55 am 
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I have a Hoag catalog too, somewhere! Has a nice picture of him.

If you want to Email those pics to me, I will take it from there.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 15, 2017 10:11 am 
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Love to, but don't see your email in your profile.

Send it to me via PM or my email listed and I will send pics of both my 5" and 6" Hoags.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 15, 2017 6:56 pm 
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Done.

This is the gun from the “High Mileage Comes To Town” thread that I am rejuvenating to the degree possible (lacking an actual time machine), first worked on by me in 1994 I believe. It is not set up the way I would do a gun these days, even at that time I’d have done it differently, but— there is no arguing with a guy who shoots this well. Of the “hooked” TG’s I have done, probably countable on one hand, at least two were for Jeff. Can’t see it but this one has some texture on the finger surface. This gun has at the very, very least, 150,000 rounds through it. The true number, we are sure, is considerably higher but, possibly, would not sound credible.
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My faithful old pin gun, this one was forged out; the large radius in the corner gives it away somewhat. You can stretch it further but depending on how much metal there is to work with, it might thin things out too much.
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I really need to dig out my many pictures of Behlert guns, taken up at Second Chance in about 1980. Austin's work after all was probably what most got me interested in doing what I'm doing.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 16, 2017 11:02 am 
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Old Lawman's Hoags! Thanks for sending sir.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2017 11:48 am 
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Two of my Hoags had squared guards. I think the longslide was 9th mastergrade, and the other about #25. I bought them second hand, so no papers. But they were numbered under the slide

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 19, 2017 7:24 pm 
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Bolands-
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And a Behlert:
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 23, 2017 9:33 am 
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I was first drawn to it by the aesthetics of it from Swenson's work then by the benefits. I started doing them around 2000, for the benefit of more room for the trigger finger and to give more area for the support hand. I tried the heat and stretch method with little success and then went to the cut and replace method tig welding it. I like to move the front forward to meet the radius from the dust cover and lower the bottom to create more of an under cut. It has more or less became a signature mod for my guns. I keep the cut offs in a box, I bet there is probably a hundred plus in there by now.
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 25, 2017 5:12 am 
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I've seen yours before Richard and that is a distinctive take on this old mod.... some body knows what they're doing with a welder, I would say!


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2018 1:49 pm 
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Looks like Jim Hoag is no longer with us.

I found this nice write-up by Jason from a few years back--

http://coolgunsite.com/comm_pistols/cus ... ag_fbi.htm


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 24, 2018 3:33 pm 
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I found this in my collection today. Dated 10/30/87.

In honor and rememberence of Jim Hoag:

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