Well thank you for dragging me into this! . You gave him sound advice already.
Actually thanks for the vote of confidence. I’ll try to give it my best.
The first thing you need to figure out is what flavor of 1911 you want. Wanting a 1911 is like wanting a car. You can go from a Jeep Wiley to a Ferrari and it’s still a car.
If this gun you want is not really a CC candidate and you only want a historical example to shoot, the Tisa is pretty darn good example of a GI type gun at a superb price that will allow you to shoot it like you stole it with no pain of wearing out an “expensive” gun or collectible, which by the way is not really much of a concern anyway, but I hope you get what I’m saying. My oldest 1911 is a Remington-Rand that was born in the early 40’s and it’s still in AMAZING condition and trust me, I shoot that gun. A well maintained 1911 will be a gun for many generations to enjoy. RIA also offers a very affordable GI type gun in the high $400 to low $500 range new.
If your desire is to buy American then many of the big name guys manufacturers offer GI type guns that are relatively affordable new and can be had used for prices comparable to imports. Springfield Armory comes to mind. I see them all the time used in the low $500 range.
If you are looking for a modern rendition of the 1911, the gun I see most often pop up at a GREAT price is the Springfield Armory Loaded model. I have seen examples go in the mid to high $600s range relatively often so I would not pay more than $650 for one and it would not be a long search. It is an impressive gun with all the modern fighting features you want like a beaver tail safety and modern sights. GREAT gun for the money. New RIAs are also in that ball park, great guns that again come with modern features that improve “shootability”, a highly subjective term that nevertheless actually real.
The good news is that the modern crunch on guns is barely touching 1911s because it seems every new shooter wants a Glock, M&P or something similar so actually many folks are selling great examples of 1911s at somewhat bargain prices to fund high-cap guns they feel they might not be able to get during the next administration. I’ve taken advantage of a few of these deals and I just saw two brand new SA Ronin 1911s for $699 each at a local store, a great guns ready to fight right out of the box. I asked the manager why so low and he said they are not “moving”.
There are very few risks associated with buying a used 1911 as long as you buy from a reputable seller on Gunbroker or a reputable local gun store that will stand behind their products. In general if the gun feels solid in your hands and operates smoothly while you manipulate it in the store you should be good to go. One test I always perform, when the gun is cocked push on the hammer forward to make sure it does not fall without the trigger being pressed, usually a sign of a kitchen counter Gunsmithing job. Also push down on the barrel where it shows in the ejection port with the action closed to make sure it’s locked up tight and there is not excessive downward movement. If there is any significant movement that usually means a worn link/pin, something that is easily repaired but usually a sign of a pretty worn out gun. Shake the gun in your hands and listen for rattle, a sign of worn rails. Some movement of the slide on the frame is ok, excessive movement again is the sign of a pretty worn out gun. Look at the bore, is rifling well defined, clean and sharp.
Be slightly nervous if the trigger pull is TOO good, again usually the sign of a kitchen Gunsmithing job. Even professionals will give you a 3.5# or higher trigger pull because lower than that you are cruising into unsafe territory unless this is a tricked out target (bullseye) gun.
The good news is that as long as the gun is relatively “tight” anything else can be easily fixed with new parts but again, quality parts cost money so any used gun you buy should be priced to reflect the potential for having to have repairs made. I will never pay more than 60-70% of the going rate for a new gun for a used example, no matter how “new” it looks. Overall cosmetic condition also impacts the price I’m willing to pay. I will buy a gun with a lot of external “wear” that is mechanically sound as long as the price is right (spelled L-O-W). I can polish and reblue or cerakote with the best of them. BUT, the price I will pay takes a big dive if the gun looks like hell.
Of course this is for working guns. If you put an original brand new in the box Colt Series 70 in unmolested factory condition in front of me you might walk out with my right kidney in your pocket.