1911 Customization Ideas — Best Upgrades for Your EDC Pistol

By Team Springfield
Posted in #EDC
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1911 Customization Ideas — Best Upgrades for Your EDC Pistol

February 11th, 2024

4 minute read

Decades before the AR-15 hit the market, the M1911 pistol was the most popular firearm to both shoot and customize. The handgun is excellent for many things from the shooting sports to concealed carry and home defense. In today’s article, Team Springfield offers some 1911 customization ideas for your consideration.

A 1911 can make for a reliable and concealable daily-carry pistol, thanks to its slim design. The 1911 Ronin EMP 3″ and 4″ handguns are designed specifically for concealed carry. However, many people love to tinker and fine-tune their traditional 1911 handgun to better fit their preferences.

If you feel the desire to personalize your 1911, here are several options to pursue. Measure each mod carefully against your needs so you don’t go wrong.

Tactical Light

If you have an accessory rail on your 1911, you might consider equipping it with a weaponlight.

Many defense encounters happen in reduced lighting conditions. Sometimes that means at night while other times it is simply indoors with weak lighting. It’s an especially great option to have if you keep your 1911 on the nightstand.

Definitely practice engaging the light so you can do it in a hurry, should you ever find yourself in a potential deadly force scenario.

One thing to keep in mind is that a weaponlight is not a replacement for a flashlight. There is some crossover between the two, but they are not fungible. For example, you don’t want to whip out your pistol to look for a dropped lug nut on the side of the road.

Night Sights

If your 1911 pistol doesn’t come equipped with night sights, then you should strongly consider adding a set. A proper set of night sights can greatly improve the acquisition of a sight picture in low-light conditions.

Three-dot tritium sights are preferred by many people. Ameriglo, Trijicon and XS Sights are three companies to consider. All offer quality products.

This is a photo of night sights on a Springfield Armory M1911 pistol. They can help with target acquisition and sight alignment in low light conditions. For a custom 1911, they may be standard. However, for a GI Mil-Spec pistol, night sights aren't usually included. Adding them is easier than a trigger job, replacing the hammer, upgrading the mainspring or polishing the feed ramp.
Nights sights are a 1911 upgrade you should consider on any gun you keep for self defense. They are easy to install, and any competent gunsmith can help you if you don’t have the tools to do it yourself.

New Grips

Everyone has different hands, so new grips can give you a personalized fit. It’s generally advised to avoid rubber grips for a concealed 1911, because they’re more likely to cling to your shirt.

However, there are a variety of options that use stippling or other texture treatments to improve the friction between the hand and gun.

Swapping out the grips on a 1911 is easy. Yamil Sued produced a video on how to replace 1911 grips here.

Trigger Adjustments

Plenty of 1911s come with good triggers out of the box; however, some people can’t help but fine-tune. When it comes to daily carry, some people prefer a slightly heavier trigger as extra reassurance against accidental discharges.

While competitors prefer a light trigger, when it comes to concealed carry you might want something in the four-pound to six-pound range. A heavier trigger isn’t necessarily a hindrance if the trigger doesn’t feel “mushy” or “gritty.”

There are also options for the trigger length and shape for the 1911. It can be made to fit almost any hand size. It’s one of the reasons the 1911 is so well loved.

In this photo, a gunsmith has a disassembled 1911 handgun on his workbench. He is getting ready to swap the mainspring housing, upgrade the grips safety, add a new rear sight, install an extended beavertail, swap out the barrel bushing, install a full-length guide rod, update the sear and install a new extractor. For 1911 guys, a checker grip is likely better than a Hogue option, and a new recoil spring might be a good upgrade as well.
While most 1911s will have a good trigger out of the box, sometimes tweaking can improve the feel and performance.

Thumb Safety

One of the bonus features of the 1911 pistol is its well-designed thumb safety.

“The manual thumb safety allows your gun to have an ‘on/off’ switch. What I mean by that is, the gun cannot be made to fire without purposely disengaging the thumb safety. Many handguns are designed with passive safeties, permitting the user to just point and shoot. While these models are safe, meaning the gun cannot just go off, they may require no more than gripping and pulling the trigger to fire. Nothing wrong with that but some of us like to additionally have an actual mechanical block requiring user action to allow the gun to fire or be made safe. It just depends on what you prefer. Me, I don’t mind having to turn the safety off in order to fire my guns,” says Rob Leatham.

The thumb safety can also help you grip the gun better.

“By keeping your primary shooting thumb on the safety, it keeps your grip high on the pistol, and allows more area for your support hand to grip onto to the pistol, which allows you to better maintain control of your gun during recoil,” adds Kippi Leatham.

A low-sitting thumb safety that doesn’t interfere with your grip can be easily switched off during your gun presentation , and back on, before holstering. There are plenty of aftermarket safety options to consider. Some are larger than others, while some have a very low profile.

In all cases, this work needs to be done by a competent and experienced gunsmith who understands the operation and care of a 1911 pistol.


One of the many awesome things about the 1911 is that it remains the ultimate handgun for customizing and “making it your own.” You can personalize your gun to fit your carry and shooting needs. It should be noted that you should have a competent and trusted gunsmith do any and all of your gunsmithing/customizing needs.

You can check out the Springfield Armory Custom shop for some options on cool things to have done to your 1911 pistol.

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Springfield Armory® recommends you seek qualified and competent training from a certified instructor prior to handling any firearm and be sure to read your owner’s manual. These articles and videos are considered to be suggestions and not recommendations from Springfield Armory. The views and opinions expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Springfield Armory.

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