Gun Digest

Custom 1911s For a New Century: Ned Christiansen

The author's Titanium Commander Ned built. This is a ten-shot, thirty-yard, Ransom rest group. Be envious.
The author's Titanium Commander Ned built. This is a ten-shot, thirty-yard, Ransom rest group. Be envious.

Patrick Sweeney takes a look at custom 1911s that are both works of art and precision shooters. In this installment, Sweeney shows off his Ned Christiansen Titanium Commander in 9mm.

Ned is not one to stick to a single pattern. While he is known for his “Conamyds” he will undertake a task in a wide variety of styles, or even make one up if need-be. Conamyds are like checkering, but he made a special tool (and fixture, and process) to machine cones instead of pyramids.

The Conamyds Ned makes. This takes a special tool, planning, skill and patience.

The cones, left flat-topped (else they’d be far too sharp) provide a distinctive non-slip pattern. Nothing looks like Conamyds, and no one else does them.

Ned built a special gun for me, a 9mm Titanium Commander. Built on a Caspian Commander slide and titanium race-ready receiver, he went to town. On it, he put some of his hallmark touches.

He designed a new and improved grip safety, one that even those whose hands don’t like the grip safety can get along with. He put his “Shield-Driver” sight on it. That design allows you to use the edge of something stout, like a holster, tactical shield or doorway, to work the slide. And he put his Conamyds on it.

Since the slide already had cocking serrations (I hadn’t thought to have the slide done bare, and Conamyds for it too, silly me) he simply milled a flat on it and put lateral serrations as a non-glare touch.

Finally, he added a low-profile lanyard loop that is recessed in the mainspring housing. I’ve had a number of people look over and gush over the pistol, and some have not even noticed the lanyard loop.

Here I am, with the Ned 9mm. I’m two hits short of a passing score, shooting a rifle qualification course.

But Ned likes to stretch the boundaries. He did a real 1911 as a custom gun. The pistol originally left Colt in 1924. It arrived in 2009 with a finish mostly gone and some minor pitting. So Ned made it Real, not Retro. He tightened it up, put on hi-viz sights that would not have been considered outrageous in 1924, a low-profile lanyard loop, and polished it to the standard of 1924: perfect.

At the other extreme, he did a 9mm comp gun, a proof-of-concept project. The comp is the most effective he could devise. The tang was re-sculpted to get your hand higher than any other tang allowed. To accommodate the tang, he re-designed the thumb safety so it pivots at the front end, instead of the rear.

The result is a 9mm gun that cycles like lightning and has so little felt recoil it is like shooting a super-loud .22LR. And as the piece de resistance, he milled the top of the slide to accept an Optima 2000 red-dot sight. No iron sights at all.

And finally, he is the only one I’ve ever seen who could take an LAR Grizzly, in .45 Win Mag, and make it look good. Even made it look like a normal 1911, if you didn’t have it in your hands to check the actual size.

This is an excerpt from: 1911: The First 100 Years.

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