Bragging on Dale "half-cocked" Hanna


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Now that I have a captive gun loving audience, I have people to share this story with...

A few years back, I picked up a mil-spec Springfield 1911-A1. I was going to keep it stock...but that lasted all of 15 minutes. So, I slowly went about tuning it up. I moved slowly, but over the years added a few basics like a trigger and beaver-tail to it (using ATP for gunsmithing).

Well, one day I decide to add a flat main spring housing and a strong side extended safety. I dropped it off at ATP and was pretty specific about what I wanted done. Three months and several phone calls later, ATP said it was ready. I went to pick it up and discovered an ambi-safety and magwell were also installed (umm...not what I ordered). The bill was over twice what was quoted, and to top it off the magwell was so poorly installed, that the gun wouldn't accept magazines...yes, you read that right, the magwell actually prevented me from loading the gun. By the way, the safety/sear fit was garbage, and the gun was an A.D. waiting to happen.

So...I was pretty bummed out. My wife advised I trade the thing and just buy something else. I sent Tom Gresham an email, and he read it on his radio show with Massad Ayoob...both suggesting I chunk it and get an XD.

Then I ran into Dale Hanna (who I met through BELT), and he asked for one chance to see if he could salvage it.

I'm not bragging about the gun, but it is officially bad-ass. What I wanted to share, with as many low country gun lovers as possible, is that Dale Hanna can be trusted and does really great work.

It was also stripped, re-parkerized, and duracoated by Mike Santos (Overlord Customs) and he really went the extra mile for me on the finish.






Just wanted to share.


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And, to add to the story...Dale is good people...

Stop by and talk to him and you will see what I mean...


Oh Yeah....Beautiful gun...1911's forever.


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I went with Novak. Since we decided to recut the slide for Novak style sights, I thought I might as well just go with their brand.

I figured the fiber optics are a good balance of brightness, cost, and they will never wear out. Besides, the green front/rear red had to have some sort advantage to acquiring a fast target picture (I probably read that in some gun magazine).

By the way, in case some of you don't know, Dale can be found at East Coast Guns on Main Street in Summerville.

Fordnut is correct, Dale is a stand up guy, and I consider myself really lucky to call him a friend.


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Sorry for the wall of text, but if anyone is interested in shifting a pistol from Chevy to Cadillac, this is what it looked like for me. It was very different than I expected. Basically, Dale broke the projects into chunks. He'd do some work, then we would test and evaluate. If it passed muster, we would move on.

First - Fix the gun, make it safe and reliable.

Second - He worked up the trigger and I took it to the range to see if liked it. It was a bit light, so he adjusted as needed.

Third - go through Brownells and pick out the exact parts I wanted Dale to use. This was harder than I thought. I figured I'd just say "extended safety" and would appear. Nope, I had to really get selective, and Dale was helpful the entire time. I could not just say "trick it out" and wait for A dream gun. I had to get involved and make MY dream gun. This was the first time any gunsmith made me get involved, and the after-hours chats with Dale were great fun and very educational.

Forth - Get parts installed and test fire gun again. Adjust as needed.

Fifth - Sights...Holy Hell this was tricky. Do I use the existing sight cuts or re-cut? If I re-cut, do I go Novack, Bo-mar, etc. If I don't alter the slide, then what options do I have? Dale suggested Novak cut, and I followed his advice and used their brand of sights. Honestly, picking the style of sights was the hardest decision for me...the choices are overwhelming and they all have pros and cons. The slide was shipped of to be re-cut by some gunsmith Dale trusts.

Sixth step - Refinish by Mike Santos (assisted by James at East Coast). There was a miscommunication and the gun was duracoated in "tactical black" by mistake, which is kinda rough and chalky looking to me. When Mike realized what happened, he took the gun back and re-did it in "matte black", which is simple and attractive to me. I hate to complain, and figured I would get used to it, but Mike would not hear of it. It was going to be painted the way I wanted...wether I wanted to bitch or not!! Additionally, because he is an artist at this, Mike opted to re-parkerize the gun which helps the duracoat paint bond to the metal. It's twice the work for him, but he knew how much I was looking forward to this project. He is no longer at East Coast, but he is on these forums as duracoat29483, and can be PM'ed I bet. While I'm sure there are other good refinishers in the area, I have had Mike do 4 guns of mine and endorse his work.

Seventh - as a surprise, Dale attacked every stainless piece on the gun with super fine sand paper and gave them all an almost mirror finish... BY HAND! The pics don't do it justice, but you have to realize that all the new parts were matte stainless to start with.

From initial drop off to final pick up - about 9 months (I wasn't in a rush, and Dale is busy as hell)
Cost - don't really remember, but I would ballpark $400-$500 (the slide cut and sights were $200-ish alone)

Again, sorry for the wall of text, but Hell, it's a gun forum so this should theoretically be interesting to someone...