Custom 45 ACP 1911-A1 "Fink's Service Pistol" from Fink's Custom Guns

Video by Boge Quinn

Article by Matt Olivier

Photography by Matt Olivier, Lacy Polacek, and Boge Quinn

May 30th, 2023

YouTube Video Link

Click pictures for a larger version.







Factory stock hammer (left), semi-bobbed hammer (right).



Factory stock thumb safety (top), Wilson Combat 6BN thumb safety (bottom).



Milt Sparks "Yaqui Slide" holster.



Simply Rugged "240" holster.



Simply Rugged "Shootist" holster.



Barranti Leather "Yaqui Slide" holster.





Re-crowned barrel.



The November, 1987, Guns & Ammo magazine included an article by the late Colonel Jeff Cooper, founder of Gunsite, entitled “The Serious Pistol”.  The article claimed “It may be the ultimate defense gun”.  In this article, Cooper described a custom gunsmithing package that the Gunsmithy, the on-site gunsmiths at Gunsite, at his request, had developed to turn a standard GI 1911 Government pistol, at the time the only truly commercially available 1911 pistol configuration, whether it be Colt or otherwise, into a fighting, defensive pistol with a singular purpose: to stop fights.  The basic principles of this fighting pistol, the Gunsite Service Pistol (GSP), as the article states, were a few upgrades to the standard GI 1911 pistol, namely “the fitting of a trigger that can be managed, sights that can be seen, and a 'dehorning job'".  The article further expands on the work performed by the Gunsmithy to achieve the standards of the GSP.  This started quite a long run for the Gunsite Service Pistol, from 1987, when it was published, well into the early 2000s, and then to a factory produced Colt Gunsite Service Pistol, available at the Gunsite Pro Shop until recently.

Many years have passed since this article, when Colt GA 1911s were the only real available choice for commercially available government models.  Springfield Armory, who supplied the parts kit to the Gunsmithy for the GSP project, quickly started making and introducing commercially available pistols.  Others, like Kimber, Auto Ordnance, Rock Island, Remington, Ruger, etc… all came along in that same timeframe.  A little-known fact is that executives from Kimber spent a good bit of time at Gunsite in the mid-1990s understanding the work they were doing on the GSPs and using this knowledge to launch their Custom Classic line of 1911 pistols, their first entry into the 1911s back in 1997.

One of these recent newcomers to the 1911 pistol market is Tisas, a Turkish company, that is being imported by SDS Imports, in Knoxville, TN.  Tisas started making pistols in 1994 and, a few years ago, partnered with SDS Imports to improve the quality of their guns, and develop a direct import channel into the US market.  SDS sent their engineers and product experts to help Tisas build better guns.  In a discussion I had with Dave Biggers, who was at that time head of Sales & Marketing at SDS, I learned that SDS has at least one of their engineers at the Tisas plant, in Turkey, at all times to help ensure quality of their product and meet SDS’ strict quality standards.

A quick on-line search of SDS Imports’ catalog will reveal their impressive portfolio of 1911 Government pistol offerings.  In fact, I reviewed one of their Bantam 9mm pistols  a while ago.  One of their available models is a strict throw back to the original Colt GI 1911-A1 government model.  While this gun is a great entry-level gun into the 1911 platform, it is also a very good base gun for customization.

Here’s where things get interesting, and history starts to repeat itself.  During the last Shootists Holiday, an invitation-only industry organization with an event held annually in Raton, NM, during a breakfast conversation, Dave Biggers brought up the topic of wanting to do a tribute to the Gunsite Service Pistol using one of SDS Imports GI models.  He wanted to have the current Gunsmithy at Gunsite, David Fink, of Fink’s Custom Gunsmithing, perform the work and was seeking input on how to scope the project work.  He even asked for some ideas on what to name the project.  Being a collector of Gunsite history and memorabilia, I shared with Dave that I had quite a few original Gunsite Service Pistols in my collection, some from very early, while some from later in their history, and that I would be happy to show the guns to the talented gunsmiths at Fink’s to help inspire them and scope the work.  While the conversation was great, we had to adjourn our breakfast to ensure we made the mandatory 8 AM safety briefing at the range.  During the short drive, my mind was going over the discussion and, not more than a few minutes after the safety meeting ended, I sought Dave out and said to him “I’ve got it: Fink's Service Pistol” and the tribute now had a name!

Enter the Fink's Service Pistol.

A month or so later, after an initial delivery of base guns was received by Fink’s, I made the short trip up the hill from Phoenix to Gunsite with 6 or so original Gunsite Service Pistols.  5 were Springfield Armory guns, just like the one Colonel Cooper wrote about, and one was an Auto Ordnance.  Yes, there was a time when parts from Springfield were not available, for various reasons, and the Gunsmithy made around 10-20 Gunsite Service Pistols on Auto Ordnance base guns.  The purpose of the trip was to provide the gunsmiths set to work on this project with hands-on experience with the guns.  While the sights and trigger are fairly easy to replicate from pictures, the “dehorning job” required hands on.  By hands on, I mean getting hands on the GSPs and feeling the smoothness of the grip frame, grip safety, and thumb safety.  All of those being properly smoothed is an integral part of the GSP package.  This also included the detailed tracing of the GSP letters and font that the Gunsmithy inscribed on the slide of the completed pistols, after test firing and approval by Colonel Cooper, in order to replicate it on the project, though as an FSP…Fink's Service Pistol.

The final package is as follows:

Base Gun: Tisas 1911 A1 US Army model
Supply, fit and install Wilson Combat 6BN thumb safety, matte blue
Gold bead front sight (Novak dovetail)
National Match U-notch rear sight (Novak dovetail) regulated at 15 yds
Throat and reliability package (polish feed ramp, set barrel throat, polish chamber, tune extractor)
De-horn, carry bevel
Semi-bob factory hammer
Recrown barrel
Action/trigger tuning
Black oxide satin duty finish, "FSP" engraving on slide

A few months went by and I received a call from David Fink that my test pistol was ready.  After another short trip up the hill, I had the first prototype pistol in my hands.   Fitted with the factory brown plastic grips, it came with in a black hard plastic TISAS/SDS Imports case which included a basic cleaning kit, instructions manual, lock, plastic bushing wrench, and 2 standard 7-round magazines.  It definitely looked the part of a service pistol, one that is there to stop fights.  It is a very close replica of the original GSP package, with just what you need and nothing you don’t.

I eagerly took the pistol to the range and, as expected, it did not disappoint!  As advertised, the sights were well regulated at 15 yards.  I fired a number of different factory 230-grain FMJ loads and all performed quite well.  I also fired various self-defense JHP loads without any trouble.  I even did a few mag dumps with JHP ammunition and the pistol performed flawlessly.  Accuracy was definitely acceptable for self-defense standards, for which the pistol is designed.

The factory de-horn job was well done and made a huge difference in managing recoil.  Whereas standard factory guns always result in not only hammer bite in the web of my strong side hand but also usually result in hot spots at best, cuts at worse, from the grip safety, this gun felt great.  After an extended shooting session, I didn’t experience any hammer bite or unusual wear and tear on my hands.

During my testing, I had the opportunity to try the new Never Unarmed 1911 magazines.  These are stainless steel, 8-round, magazines designed for reliability.  Throughout my testing, I had absolutely zero problems or malfunctions using these magazines.  They performed as designed and are priced very competitively ($18 as of this writing in May, 2023).

As of this writing, Finks’ Custom Gunsmithing has around 20 pistols already built and ready to go, with more in the queue to be built.  The package price retails for $1.299.99,, which is quite reasonable considering the custom work that is provided with each pistol.

If you are looking for a practical, no frills, self-defense pistol that is reliable, as well as a great tribute to the original GSP, the Fink Service Pistol (FSP) is the next generation in the evolution of the serious pistol!

Fink's Custom Guns:

Gunsite Academy:

Tisas USA:

Lynn Thompson's Never Unarmed®:

Matt Olivier

Got something to say about this article? Want to agree (or disagree) with it? Click the following link to go to the GUNBlast Feedback Page.

Click pictures for a larger version.









Fink's Service Pistol (center), shown with several versions of the Gunsite Service Pistol above & below.





Base pistol comes with two Check-Mate seven-round steel magazines.



Eight-round stainless steel magazine from Lynn Thompson's Never Unarmed.