After doing a little more looking around, I think I've decided what my 1911 purchase (if I buy one) will be. The Spartan is STI's entry level 1911. It appears to be a Rock Island Armory frame, slide, and maybe the barrel. STI then fits the parts together and uses their own small components during assembly. RIA seems to have gathered something of a following in their own right in recent years. This usage of outsourced components means that STI is able to offer this pistol at an MSRP of $698.84, around $130 cheaper than the Kimber Custom II I was previously looking at. Edit: Based on some further study, it appears the Spartan is assembled at RIA and then QCed at STI. Not something that affects my decisions but it might be important to someone else who's looking for info.
There are a few drawbacks from my point of view:
1) The slide is cut for Bomar style adjustable rear sights. Adjustable sights have a reputation for losing zero relatively easily but there is a lot to be said for being able to tailor the sights for your preferred self-defense load. Probably not a big enough issue to keep me from purchasing.
2) The front sight is fiber optic. Personally, I've never used a fiber optic sight but I've heard they're fantastic in competition. The main issue I have with this setup is that most self-defense situations occur in areas of low-light. I'm not sure that a fiber optic will collect enough light in a wide array of low-light situations to be effective. Personally, I'd rather have a tritium powered front sight. STI makes a set of tritium powered night sights, both front and rear, that fit the Bomar style cut that would do quite nicely.
3) The mainspring housing is polymer. COME ON! Yes, the stresses this part sees makes this material okay for the application. But just okay. I've heard of these parts breaking, usually upon re-installation, often enough to make me leery. But that's okay. I've already decided that I'd add a mag funnel to help fill out my grip. Ed Brown makes a nice mag funnel that is incorporated into the base of an included mainspring housing. That will definitely be a necessity for me upon purchase of this pistol. With this part, I think I'd probably get a set of Alumagrips designed for mag funnels.
All gripes aside, I think this pistol will make for a fantastic base on which to customize.