Custom and Specialties Shawn’s 1911A1


The Shawn’s custom 1911A1 is a large-frame semi-automatic pistol chambered in .45 ACP. It started out as a Springfield Mil-Spec, but the owner needed it modified to better suit his ability thus came the Shawn’s 1911.

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Shawn's 1911A1
Caliber: .45 ACP
Grip: Black micarta
Capacity: 7
Sights: Black on black Novak sights
Features: Wilson combat slide lock; and Greider precision trigger
Action: Semi-auto
Material/Finish: Parkerized steel
Size: Large
Trigger: Single-action
Trigger Pull: 4 pounds
Barrel Length: 5"
Length: 8.5"
Height: 5.5"

Editor Review

Finding the Right Defensive Pistol

Anyone serious about defensive pistol-craft knows the name Chuck Taylor, and also knows the impact his theories have had on handgun fighting tactics. A few years back, the chance to take one of his tactical pistol classes dropped into my lap – so I jumped at it.

My problem at the time was my crop of defensive handguns weren’t working out for me. They were quality guns, but were purchased before a series of major surgeries made my upper body and right hand incredibly weak. Due to the medical problem, a light single-action trigger became necessary if I wanted to shoot a handgun accurately.

As luck would have it, Shawn’s Tactical Specialty, a builder of high quality 1911A1 pistols was brought to my attention because the owner, Shawn Herman was hosting Chuck Taylor’s class. During the class registration process, the fact that Chuck Taylor trusted Shawn’s craftsmanship came to my attention and helped me decide how to find a gun that fit my needs.

Time to Customize

Instead of trying to working around my physical limitations with an off-the-shelf handgun, having my Springfield Mil-Spec customized by Shawn to fit my specific needs was an easy choice.

Unfortunately, by the time I got all my ducks in a row it was too late to have Shawn complete the work prior to the upcoming class.

Regardless, I made arrangements to turn my beloved Springfield Mil-Spec over to Shawn with instructions to do a trigger job, a reliability package, replace the sights and the slide lock. The fact that the muscle at the base of my thumb atrophied over the years required a grip safety with a memory bump as well.

From the factory, the Mil-Spec had a lot of sharp edges so the final steps were to have it dehorned and then parkerized. 

Features After the Custom Shop

Just over a month later, my phone rang and Shawn told me the gun was ready. The thought of picking up my first custom 1911A1 made the 45 minute drive from my house to his shop seem like an eternity.

One look at the finished gun made it obvious that it was worth the wait.

Not only was the parkerized finish flawless, it was a deep gray that made the gun easy to identify as a true fighting tool. Black Micarta grip panels not only made a great choice because of their ability to stay tacky while wet, but when combined with the gray finish, created a striking appearance.

The slide lock was replaced with a version from Wilson Combat and black on black Novak sights were installed as well. Although not part of the original plan, the stock trigger was unable to handle the changes required to create the trigger pull feel Shawn wanted, so it was replaced with one from Greider Precision.

(Wilson Combat Slide Lock, Novak rear sight and Greider precision trigger)


When it comes down to it, a fighting gun’s true value is defined by its reliability, ease of handling and accuracy. Shawn’s excellent craftsmanship created a 1911A1 that excelled in all three categories.

Over the years, the custom Mil-Spec was utterly reliable during tactical pistol classes taken through Tactical Defense Institute, Suarez International and Innovative Tactical Concepts.  That meant firing up to 1000 rounds, or more, in a single day with limited maintenance, and over 2000 rounds over weekend.  At the same time, it was also used for weekly range training, and was used as a daily carry gun.

Such hard use highlighted the handgun’s exceptional reliability since there were only three malfunctions that couldn’t be attributed to bad ammo, a bad magazine or operator error - a truly amazing performance for any gun.


Accuracy testing completed for this article was a reminder of the inherent accuracy of the 1911A1. Even with the original one-piece Springfield barrel and stainless bushing, three shot groups fired from a rest measured just under 3” at 25 yards. 

As a side note, the Springfield Mil-Spec usually comes with a two-piece barrel and carbon steel bushing. But, due to a parts shortage and an increase in demand by buyers, a limited number were built with a one-piece barrel and stainless bushing.  Stumbling onto one of the guns with the upgraded parts saved time and money.


The trigger pull as the gun came from Shawn’s Tactical measured right at four pounds and is a reminder that a well tuned 1911A1 trigger without any slack, or over-travel, is among the true joys in life.

Was it worth the price?

Many of the big name 1911A1 custom shops produce guns that are beautiful to look at and have an equally impressive price tag.  Unfortunately, that means many of the best 1911A1s ever built are rarely used as true fighting tools.

Thankfully, such a result was avoided in this case.

From the beginning, the goal of this custom 1911A1 build was to create a gun that helped overcome the owner’s physical shortcomings and also create a true self-defense tool.

The final result met all of the pre-build goals, which is rare because too often a gunsmith builds a gun he wants, not a gun that meets the owner’s guidelines.  Thankfully, Shawn avoided such a temptation and built a gun perfectly suited to the needs of the owner.

If you are looking for a 1911 that will sit in a safe, look pretty and only be pulled out to impress your friends, buy one from one of the big players in the custom 1911A1 industry. However, if you are looking for a gun built to your specific needs, get in touch with Shawn’s Tactical Specialty.

You won’t be disappointed.