Re: What's the best way to find and buy a pistol?
Find your budget, remember to price in accessories you will want or need. Go to a gun shop, handle any guns that interest you. A good place to look and handle a wide variety of firearms is at a gun show, find out if there are any in your area and when they take place. Though this usually involves a entry fee.
Research them online, narrow down your choices. Then if possible, find a range with those guns available to rent and try them out.
I love 1911's but they aren't for everyone.
I like the way the Kimber Eclipse models look, I had thought about getting one in 10mm. Found a good deal on a RIA tactical in 10mm instead. I'm not sold on Kimber's (many people buy and like them though). For $1200 I'd probably be looking at a used Springfield TRP, Dan Wesson, or STI.
A good quality 1911 for less money is the Springfield Range Officer. $700 -800 It's built with the quality of the more expensive models but has some extras left out/changed to make it cheaper. It's not as pretty, but I'd say it's probably better made/fit than that Kimber.
A lot of people are liking Ruger's SR1911. Which are in the $600 - 700 range. For a couple hundred less, a lot like RIA 1911's.
Or you can just drop $5000 and get a Wilson Combat Supergrade. lol
1911's are really all over the place, you need to figure out what you're willing to pay. What features you like. I need a beaver tail grip safety on my 1911's, but some prefer the GI style, also a flat mainspring housing. Some like the GI arched style. An extended thumb safety is a must for me, it's apart of my thumbs forward grip. I prefer a checkered MSH and front strap. You wont really know what you like until you try it.
It may be cheaper to order online, it may be the only way to get what you really want too. You need to take into account credit card fees, shipping, and transfer fee's from a local FFL where you would have to have it shipped. Shop around for that as well. Some FFL's don't like handling transfers or just because they can charge a unreasonable amount for transfers. $20 is what my FFL charges.
Also is the intended purpose of the gun just going to be a range toy or will you use it for defensive purposes as well? 1911's aren't exactly the ideal modern defensive weapon and require a higher level of training than other simpler designs. IE Glock, S&W M&P.