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Old 12-25-2005, 17:06   #1
Short Cut
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Official GT 1911 FAQ and Resource Thread

Share your links.

AMMO MANUFACTURERS

http://www.black-hills.com/
http://www.doubletapammo.com/ **
http://www.federalcartridge.com/
http://www.georgia-arms.com/ **
http://www.hornady.com/ **
http://www.nsksales.com/ **
http://www.reedsammo.com/ **
http://www.remington.com/
http://www.winchester.com/

** sells direct to public


AMMO RETAILERS

http://www.aimsurplus.com/
http://www.ammoman.com/
http://www.ammunitionstore.com/
http://www.thehuntingshack.com
http://www.miragetechnologies.net/
http://www.northwestloading.com/
http://www.outdoormarksman.com/
http://www.streichers.com/



AUCTION SITES

http://www.auctionarms.com/
http://www.gunsamerica.com/
http://www.gunbroker.com/



FFL DEALERS

http://www.budsgunshop.com/
http://www.floridagunexchange.com/home.html
http://www.impactguns.com/store/
http://www.migunslingers.com/
http://www.mikessportshop.com/
http://www.onpointfirearms.com/
http://www.ordnanceoutsellers.com/
http://www.sportingarms.com/
http://www.tacticaldefense.net/
http://www.tenpercentfirearms.com/
http://www.whittakerguns.com/



FORUMS

http://www.10mmtalk.com/
http://forums.1911forum.com/
http://www.1911og.org/forum/
http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/
http://www.combatcarry.com/vbulletin/index.php
http://www.glocktalk.com/
http://www.louderthanwords.us/forum/
http://forum.m1911.org/
http://www.pistolsmith.com/index.php
http://www.sigforum.com/
http://smith-wessonforum.com/
http://www.tacticalforums.com/
http://www.thehighroad.org/



GRIPS

http://www.2rco.com/
http://www.1911pistolgrips.com/grips.php
http://www.alumagrips.com/
http://www.carboncreations.com/
http://www.chipmccormickcorp.com
http://www.customknivesandpistolgrips.com/
http://www.czgrips.us/1911.htm
http://davidsonknives.com/grips/grips.htm
http://www.ergogrips.net/gm.html#XT
http://www.esmeralda.cc/
http://fineturnage.com/
http://www.imageseek.com/hakan/ <- Hakan Pek Grips
http://www.getgrip.com/ <- Hogue grips
http://www.herrett-stocks.com/
http://www.simonichknives.com/gunner.htm
http://www.vzgrips.com/grips.html
http://www.wickedgrips.com/
http://www.woodgrips.com/



GUNSMITHS

http://www.10-8performance.com
http://www.actionsbyt.com/
http://www.theactionworks.com/Default.htm
http://www.apwcogan.com/
http://www.berryhillguns.com/
http://www.burwellgunsmithing.com/
http://www.clarkcustomguns.com/
http://www.ctbrian.com/
http://www.cylinder-slide.com/
http://www.egw-guns.com/
http://www.fletchercustompistols.com/
http://www.geminicustoms.com/
http://www.heinie.com/
http://www.jardinescustom.com/
http://www.kingsgunworks.com/
http://www.m-guns.com/
http://marsguns.com/Home.htm
http://www.novaksights.com/
http://www.precision-gunworks.com/Home.aspx
http://www.robarguns.com/DesktopDefault.aspx
http://www.rodgerspistolsmithing.com/
http://www.rogersprecision.com/
http://www.signaturegrade.com/sg/index.html
http://www.trippresearch.com/
http://www.tusseycustom.com/
http://www.yost-bonitz.com/



HARD PARTS

http://www.10-8performance.com
http://1911store.com/
http://www.lesbaer.com/
http://www.berryhillguns.com
http://www.edbrown.com/cgi-bin/start.cgi/parts.htm
http://www.caspianarms.com/
http://www.chipmccormickcorp.com
http://www.cylinder-slide.com/
http://www.e-gunparts.com/
http://www.egw-guns.com/
http://www.gunaccessories.com/1911/default1911.asp
http://www.kingsgunworks.com/
http://www.nowlinguns.com/
http://www.smithandalexander.com/
http://www.wilsoncombat.com/index_1911_part_acc.htm



HOLSTERS

http://www.akerleather.com/
http://www.alessileather.com/
http://www.andrewsleather.com/
http://www.blackhawk.com/
http://www.blackhillsleather.com/
http://www.blade-tech.com/index.php
http://www.brommelandgunleather.com/
http://www.bulmangunleather.com/
http://www.comp-tac.com/
http://www.c-rusty.com/
http://www.delfatti.com/
http://www.desantisholster.com/
http://www.donhume.com/
http://www.epsaddlery.com/
http://www.fist-inc.com/
http://www.fobusholster.com/catalog/
http://www.usgalco.com/
http://garritysgunleather.com/
http://www.grandfatheroak.com/
http://www.haugenhandgunleather.com/
http://www.highnoonholsters.com/
http://www.holsters.org/ <-- Horseshoe leather
http://www.kdholsters.com/
http://www.kirkpatrickleather.com/
http://www.kramerleather.com/
http://www.lightningarms.com/
http://www.mernickleholsters.com/
http://www.miltsparks.com/
http://www.mitchrosen.com/
http://www.raftersgunleather.com/
http://www.rfholsters.com/rfholsters/
http://www.sidearmor.com/
http://www.theholsterstore.com
http://store.yahoo.com/rlcompanyusa/tugu.html <- Tucker Gunleather



MAGAZINES

https://www.metalformmagazines.com/style.asp
http://www.chipmccormickcorp.com
http://www.precisionsights.com/about.html
http://www.trippresearch.com/
http://www.wilsoncombat.com/index_1911_part_acc.htm



MANUFACTURERS

http://www.armscor.com.ph/
http://www.auto-ordnance.com/
http://www.coltsmfg.com/cmci/pistols.asp
http://www.cz-usa.com/01.09.php
http://www.dlsports.com/
http://www.detonicsusa.com/
http://www.edbrown.com/cgi-bin/start...omhandguns.htm
http://www.guncrafterindustries.com/
http://www.kimberamerica.com/index2.php
http://www.lesbaer.com/
http://www.nighthawkcustom.com/
http://www.nowlinguns.com/
http://www.olyarms.com/
http://www.paraord.com/pages/main.html
http://www.rockriverarms.com/
http://www.shootersarms.com.ph/
http://www.sigarms.com/
http://www.smith-wesson.com/
http://www.springfield-armory.com/
http://www.stiguns.com/
http://www.sviguns.com/
http://www.valtrousa.com/
http://www.wilsoncombat.com/



MEGA RETAILERS

http://www.brownells.com/
http://www.cabelas.com/
http://www.cdnninvestments.com/
http://www.cheaperthandirt.com/ctd/default.asp
http://www.dnrsports.com/
http://www.midwayusa.com/
http://www.natchezss.com/
http://powdervalleyinc.com/ reloading components and ammo
http://www.reddiamondonline.com/
http://www.scharch.com/
http://www.sportsmansguide.com/



PHOTOGRAPHS

http://lundestudio.com/firearms.html
http://www.sniperworld.com/1911/ <-- How different features look


REFINISHING

http://www.apwcogan.com/
Black T - Walter Birdsong - 601-939-7448
http://www.ccr-refinishing.com/
http://www.customizedcreationz.com/home.html <- Polishing
http://www.fordsguns.com/
http://www.larsontactical.com/
http://m1tactical.com/
http://www.mahovskysmetalife.com/
http://www.originalmetaloy.com/
http://www.robarguns.com/DesktopDefault.aspx
http://www.shootiniron.com/
http://www.trippresearch.com/
http://www.tusseycustom.com/


RESEARCH

http://www.blindhogg.com/ <- help for the home gunsmith
http://www.m1911.org/m1911dt.htm
http://www.m1911.org/technic2.htm <- Extractor Tuning Tips by Bill Wilson
http://www.model1911a1.com/
http://proofhouse.com/
http://www.sightm1911.com/
http://www.geocities.com/mr_motorhead/10tech.html <-- 10MM 1911 info



SIGHTS

http://www.10-8performance.com
http://www.crimsontrace.com/
http://www.dawsonprecision.com/
http://www.heinie.com/
http://www.meprolight.com/
http://www.mmcsight.com/
http://www.novaksights.com/
http://www.precisionsights.com/about.html
http://www.trijicon-inc.com/home.cfm
http://www.wilsoncombat.com/index_1911_part_acc.htm
http://www.xssights.com/
http://www.yost-bonitz.com/products/



SPRINGS

http://www.gunsprings.com/
http://www.sprinco.com/recoil.html
http://www.ismi-gunsprings.com/



TRAINING

http://www.awt-co.com/
http://www.blackwaterusa.com/
http://www.combatshootingandtactics.com/
http://www.defense-training.com/ <- John Farnam
http://www.firearmsacademy.com
http://www.frontsight.com/
http://www.fpftraining.com/index.html
http://www.gunsite.com/
http://www.guntactics.com/
http://www.opstraining.com/
http://www.personaldefensetraining.com/
http://www.shivworks.com/ <- South Narc
http://www.shootrite.org/
http://www.southernexposuretraining.com/
http://www.suarezinternational.com/
http://www.tacticalresponse.com/
http://www.thunderranchinc.com/
http://www.tridentconcepts.com/index.asp
http://www.yfainc.com/index.htm <- Louis Awerbuck



WEAPON MOUNTED LIGHTS

http://streamlight-flashlights.com/
http://www.surefire.com/




Please add your links or categories.

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Last edited by MarkCO; 10-07-2010 at 17:10.. Reason: Added new links
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Old 07-18-2009, 11:02   #2
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1911 carry conditions explained

I borrowed this info from another site to try to lessen the amount of "Is cocked and locked really safe" questions that may come from those new to 1911's and gun forums. I can't sum it up any better than this so I'm not going to try.

The Conditions of Readiness:
The legendary guru of the combat 1911, Jeff Cooper, came up with the "Condition" system to define the state of readiness of the 1911-pattern pistol. The are:
Condition 0 - A round is in the chamber, hammer is cocked, and the safety is off.
Condition 1 - Also known as "cocked and locked," means a round is in the chamber, the hammer is cocked, and the manual thumb safety on the side of the frame is applied.
Condition 2 - A round is in the chamber and the hammer is down.
Condition 3 - The chamber is empty and hammer is down with a charged magazine in the gun.
Condition 4 - The chamber is empty, hammer is down and no magazine is in the gun.
The mode of readiness preferred by the experts is Condition One. Generally speaking, Condition One offers the best balance of readiness and safety. Its biggest drawback is that it looks scary to people who don't understand the operation and safety features of the pistol.
Condition Two is problematic for several reasons, and is the source of more negligent discharges than the other conditions. When you rack the slide to chamber a round in the 1911, the hammer is cocked and the manual safety is off. There is no way to avoid this with the 1911 design. In order to lower the hammer, the trigger must be pulled and the hammer lowered slowly with the thumb onto the firing pin, the end of which is only a few millimeters away from the primer of a live round. Should the thumb slip, the hammer would drop and fire the gun. Not only would a round be launched in circumstances which would be at best embarrassing and possibly tragic, but also the thumb would be behind the slide as it cycled, resulting in serious injury to the hand. A second problem with this condition is that the true 1911A1 does not have a firing pin block and an impact on the hammer which is resting on the firing pin could conceivably cause the gun to go off, although actual instances of this are virtually nonexistent. Finally, in order to fire the gun, the hammer must be manually cocked, again with the thumb. In an emergency situation, this adds another opportunity for something to go wrong and slows the acquisition of the sight picture.
Condition Three adds a degree of "insurance" against an accidental discharge since there is no round in the chamber. To bring the gun into action from the holster, the pistol must be drawn and the slide racked as the pistol is brought to bear on the target. This draw is usually called "the Israeli draw" since it was taught by Israeli security and defense forces. Some of the real expert trainers can do an Israeli draw faster than most of us can do a simple draw, but for most of us, the Israeli draw adds a degree of complexity, an extra step, and an opening for mistakes in the process of getting the front sight onto the target.
Using the "half-cock" as a safety
The half-cock notch on the M1911 is really intended as a "fail-safe" and is not recommended as a safety. However, it has been used as a mode of carry. From Dale Ireland comes this interesting piece of service history from WWII:
When the hammer is pulled back just a few millimeters it "half cocks" and pulling the trigger will not fire the gun [on genuine mil-spec G.I. pistols]. I imagine this is an unsafe and not a recommended safety position. The reason I bring it up however is that it was a commonly used position especially by left-handers in WWII. My father carried his 1911 (not A1) to Enewitok, Leyte, first wave at Luzon, the battle inside Intramuros, and until he was finally shot near Ipo dam. He tells me that he regularly used the half cocked safety position especially at night and patrolling because bringing the weapon to the full cocked position from the half cocked created much less noise and he was left handed so he couldn't use the thumb safety effectively. He said using the half cocked position was all about noise reduction for lefties while maintaining a small amount of safety that could quickly be released.
Again, the half-cock is intended as a fail-safe in the event that the sear hooks were to fail, and it is not recommended as a mode of carry. It should also be noted that on guns with "Series 80" type hammers, the hammer will fall from half-cock when the trigger is pulled. This would include guns from Springfield Armory and modern production Colts. But, if you happen to be a south paw and find yourself in the jungle with a G.I. M1911A1 and surrounded by enemy troops, the half-cock might be an option.

The only thing I feel the need to add is this.

The question of whether or not it causes any undue wear to the internal mechanisms of the machine if you leave your gun in Condition 1 all the time. The short answer is no. Leaving your mag loaded all the time does not cause undue wear on it. A spring only wears during use. If you leave a spring with full tension it is not moving so it will wear the same as though it has no tension. It is only the act of going between those 2 states of tension or no tension that cause wear.

Leaving the sear engaged to the hammer will not cause undue wear to either of those components for the same reasons. A properly fitted thumb safety eliminates the possibility of the sear from moving. Thus, not causing any wear.

I hope this clears up some questions that new users to the website and the 1911 platform may have.

Last edited by custom2; 07-23-2009 at 13:16..
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Old 07-18-2009, 12:44   #3
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How to perform a safety check on a used 1911

MAKE SURE THE WEAPON IS COMPLETELY UNLOADED WHEN TESTING ANY GUN, NEW OR USED. I TAKE NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOU HURTING YOURSELF OR ANYONE ELSE.

When buying a used 1911, it is very important that the safety features function as if it were a new gun. If it fails even one of these tests, you need to figure out if the gun is worth buying at the price listed because it may need some work it get it to run safely.

The first thing you should do is open the slide up with an empty magazine to make sure that the slide stop full engages the slide in the full upward position. If it doesn't do this, it could be due to a weak magazine spring, a defective magazine follower or a poorly fitted slide stop.

The next thing you want to do is release the slide stop and put the gun into battery on an empty chamber. This is generally frowned upon because doing so can ruin a fine trigger job because it causes the firing components a lot of undue stress. Unfortunately, you have to do it to make sure you don't have any hammer follow caused by faulty firing components. If you do this and the hammer stays cocked, it just passed this part of the test.

Now you move on to the thumb safety. With the hammer cocked, the thumb safety must make a positive "Click" when either activated or deactivated. If it doesn't, you have an issue with the detent in the plunger tube or the safety lug isn't making full contact with the sear. If it doesn't click loudly, I would call this an unsafe weapon and probably wouldn't buy it. You also need to make sue that the thumb safety fits well into the notch on the slide properly. It should fit snug and be fully in its upward position. If it passes that test, now you test the actual function of the safety.

Engage the thumb safety upward to lock the sear in place with the hammer cocked. Hold the gun with your strong side hand (right if you are right handed) like you are ready to fire the weapon making sure you depress the grip safety. Now press the trigger rearward like you are firing the gun. With the safety on, the hammer should not move what so ever. If the hammer moves, you have an issue in the firing control mechanism. If it fails this test, I probably wouldn't buy the gun. If it passes this test, move on to the grip safety.

Do a chamber check to make sure the gun is unloaded
. To check the grip safety, cock the hammer and put the thumb safety down in the firing position. Press the trigger rearward making sure that you don't touch the grip safety. If the grip safety is working, the gun should not fire.

Now you press the trigger rearward with your trigger finger first and them depress the thumb safety with the thumb of you trigger finger hand. The gun should fire when the grip safety is full depressed or close to the end. If it fails this test, you have a faulty grip safety or one that was improperly installed.

Now you will test for trigger reset. With the hammer down touching the firing pin stop, grip the gun like you are going to fire it. Press the trigger rearward and hold it there. Now take your other hand and rack the slide back and forth making sure you are pressing the trigger back while you do it. The hammer should stay cocked. If it doesn't, you have a problem. The gun could go full auto on you because there is an issue with the firing group components. If the hammer stays cocked, release the trigger and see if it resets. You should be able to let go of the trigger and it will reset, making you able to pull the trigger and the hammer will fall now.

Now you will test the gun for proper trigger pre travel or "take up". With the hammer cocked you should be able to depress the trigger .030 or .040 of an inch before the trigger makes contact with the sear. You will need a caliper to measure the actual movement but you should also be able to tell that it is ok by feeling it or comparing it to another gun.

When buying a new or used 1911, you want to make sure the magazine falls freely from the magwell when the mag release is used. If it doesn't, it could be due to a crooked trigger bow, a bad magazine or a poorly fitted mag release.

Take the grips off if you can and look for rust under the grip panels. This may give you an idea of how the gun was cared for.

If the gun passes all of these safety checks, then you have a safe gun worth buying. If it fails a few, you need to renegotiate your price to include repairs or you need to look at another pistol.

IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO DO CHAMBER CHECKS IN BETWEEN SAFETY TESTS. YOU CAN NEVER BE TOO CAREFUL WHEN HANDLING A FIREARM!

If anyone has any more info to share, please do.

SEE POST 14 FOR A BETTER EXPLANATION OF WHAT IS EXCEPTABLE SEARMOVEMENT

Last edited by custom2; 03-01-2010 at 11:58..
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Old 05-23-2010, 12:19   #4
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Slide to frame fit.

so i was bored today, actually i was taking a pic to show someone what a slide tightened via the peening method looks like, so i took pics of all my 1911's slide/frame fit.

TRP w/ Custom Shop work.
1911 Forums

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TGO-1
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Trophy Match
this has some very slight vertical movement.
1911 Forums

i can fit a .003" feeler gauge between the slide and frame.
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Last edited by Quack; 05-23-2010 at 12:29..
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Old 05-23-2010, 12:21   #5
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9mm Loaded
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.008" of vertical movement
1911 Forums

EMP 9mm
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.002" of vertical movement
1911 Forums

STI Edge
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Last edited by Quack; 05-23-2010 at 12:39..
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Old 05-23-2010, 12:22   #6
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Kobra Carry
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Wilson Combat Classic Longslide
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Remington R1
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Last edited by Quack; 06-10-2010 at 15:42..
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Old 06-10-2010, 15:41   #7
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Remington R1

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Old 06-10-2010, 16:57   #8
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Sorry, crappy camera here.
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Old 08-22-2010, 20:49   #9
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1911 IWB Holster Reviews

I have accumulated quite a collection of holsters for my 1911s. Because this is a somewhat popular topic, ie people's favorite holster choices, I'll share some thoughts on several of my holsters.

The players are:
- Comp-Tac C-TAC Kydex IWB
- C5 Leather Montana XLT Leather IWB
- Tucker Gunleather The Answer Kydex/Leather Hybrid IWB
- Nighthawk Custom Stealth Leather IWB
- Galco Miami Classic II Leather Shoulder Rig

First up is the CTAC. I really like the concept of this holster. It offers a very slim profile, is easy to take on and off without removing the belt, and the offset clips/loops allows for a really secure and stable platform. The fact that the entire holster body is molded from Kydex means that you can easily re-holster your gun with one hand - no more fishing around and trying to re-open the mouth of a collapsed holster. The fit is somewhat loose when not being worn, but fits nice and snug when behind a nice tight gun belt. This holster is pretty competitively priced at ~$80, and should last for a very long time. The Kydex belt clips are replaceable, and also adjustable for cant using the supplied allen wrench.
There are a couple downsides to this holster, one is that Kydex is more likely to create wear on a pistol's finish with repeated use, the other is (this may be unique to me) that the bottom edge of the belt clips have a habit of digging into my hip and it's pretty annoying.
To summarize, good function and durability, one hand re-holstering, as well as user-adjustment options. May accelerate wear on the pistol, and depending on your style, may not always be king for comfort.
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Next up is a C5 Leather Montana XLT. This is a nice mahogany leather IWB holster I had made a couple years ago. It is crafted out of nice quality, thick leather, and the boning is pretty good. I actually had it made for a Springfield Champion Operator, but, my 5" Nighthawk rides and fits perfectly in it as well. This holster is pretty obviously modeled after a Milt Sparks Versa-Max II, which is a great design. The weight is offset onto your belt/waist using the offset loops, which also allows for a thinner profile. There is extra thick leather reinforcement around the mouth of the holster, but it does collapse under belt pressure when there is no gun present for an hour or more. It's extremely comfortable to wear, my only complaint here would be that the mouth should be reinforced with steel or something for easier one-handed re holstering. Fit and finish is good, and it's very economical - I think I paid like $75 for it, which is great considering what you get.
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Old 08-22-2010, 20:50   #10
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Next up is a Tucker 'The Answer' Leather/Kydex hybrid holster. This is the original leather/kydex hybrid design, and it's a nice one. The build quality here is really noticeable and better than the other holsters similar in style to this one (Crossbreed SuperTuck, Comp-Tac MTAC). Price is $140 and wait was about 6 weeks. The style of slim clips makes for the holster to come on and off pretty easily without removing a belt, which is nice. The backside of the leather that faces your body makes for a nice shield, and is quite comfortable, however it is also quite grabby. The nicest feature here is the kydex holster shell is lined with leather on the inside, so you get the convenience of one-handed reholstering offered by Kydex, but the wear/finish of leather. I have had 2 of these holsters, the first was butter smooth. I sold it to a forum member awhile ago in a consolidation effort, and eventually bought another one. This latest one however, has a very tight fit with my pistol, and drawing is a real chore. I've tried adjusting the tension screws and it doesn't make much of a difference. Not sure what's different, but I don't like this one as much as the first.
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Old 08-22-2010, 20:51   #11
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Next is my current carry holster. A leather IWB hand crafted by Nighthawk Custom called "The Stealth" although it's almost nearly identical to a VMII. The leather is a burgundy color, the boning and stitching is nicely done. The holster is accented by the mouth and belt loops being made of black sharkskin leather, and the holster mouth has an internal steel reinforcement - keeping the mouth open and allowing for very easy one handed re-holstering. The build quality is very nice here, and I only waited 2 weeks to get it, at a cost of $179. It carries very well and balances the weight with the offset loops on your belt/waistband nicely. Carrying a 5" 1911 here is a piece of cake. Cosmetically, this is my favorite holster, and functionally I think it takes the cake here as well.
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Last is a shoulder rig unit. Galco Miami Classic II for a 5" 1911. I like the holster and mag carrier to ride high and tight, and it took a bit of strap adjustment to get it right, but now it's where I like it. The straps are a lightweight suede type leather, and don't pull/stick on your clothing like others I have used in the past. The harness does a good job of holding and distributing the weight evenly. A double mag carrier is standard, and nicely done. Holds mags easily and securely, with nice snapping straps to retain them. Holster itself is a nice fit - it is not super tight, I mean it's tight on the gun, but it also allows for a very easy and very fast draw - which I actually prefer. The snap locking thumbstrap is a must though, because the gun while fitted to the holster, may come out without it. This rig is ~$150 and widely available without much waiting time.
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I hope some will find this informative. I have obviously tied up a great deal of time and resources with holsters, and it has taken me a long time to find what I prefer the best.
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Old 08-25-2010, 10:55   #12
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I've become sold on the Crossbreed Supertuck Deluxe. It's a great value. For a EDC of larger/heavier guns, it's the most comfortable, lowest profile, secure rig I've used under $100.

I got mine (horsehide, regular cut) LN for $70. New horsehide is approx. $90 delivered and cowhide is approx. $75. Add $8 for combat cut.

For a 3"-4.25" 1911 I think it's great. However, the leather is cut short at the muzzle for a 5" and I would not want the muzzle of the 5" against my body. Maybe they come longer for the 5"?

On mine, I had to dimple the holster backing for my mag release (see first and last image). The mag was getting released sitting in the car (bucket seats). Easy deal to do. Just used a loose FP bullet (I reload), water and a quick clamp. Wet the rig at the mag release location (front and back), align the bullet with the mag release location, apply the clamp tighly and leave overnight. Problem sold.

Would I EDC a $2000 gun with the CBST? No. But, I'd not EDC a $2000 gun anyway. My EDC is a tool and I expect wear and tear. For me, the CBST gets it done very well.

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Old 09-09-2010, 15:34   #13
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Dan Wesson Guardian - Range Report

I made it to the range today to put some rounds through the Guardian.
If you haven't seen the photo review click this link

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Ammo
150 rounds of Blazer Brass (115gr)
150 rounds of Remington green/white box (115gr)
50 rounds of Speer Gold-Dot (124gr +P)
I also brought WWB, but unfortunately it was .45ACP and not 9mm.
All ammo fed reliably, even during double and triple taps.

Magazines
The magazines that i bought were 2 of the following:
Factory Dan Wesson (Check-Mate) mags
Wilson Combat ETM's
Metalform/Springfield 9mm.
There were no issues with any of the magazines used. I'll use either the factory or Springfield magazines when I carry the Guardian since they are flush with the bottom of the grip/frame.

Grip
The Shadow grips and 25LPI frontstrap checkering provided adequate grip, though i prefer something with more bite. I have large hands and didn't find the slim grips to be too small. Since the MSH is smooth, i thought that i would want it checkered for better grip. I may replace it, but don't think it will be an issue.

Sights
The sights were Novak style 3 dot night sights, which is common on 1911's. The Guardian's POI (Point Of Impact) at 15yrds was right on top of the front sight, similar to the dot on an "i". The rear sight will get changed to a 10-8 rear. There is nothing wrong with the factory sights, I like all my 1911's to be similar

Trigger
The factory trigger is a medium curved Videki style trigger. Like other curved 1911 trigger's my finger started to get tender by the end of the range visit. I'll change the trigger out for my usual "Quack" (flat) trigger. Trigger weight was 3Lbs. 12oz. I'll measure the trigger again after the mythical 500rds.

Slide Stop
I usually don't use the slide stop as a slide release, but I had mentioned in the photo review, the slide stop has a nice shelf on it as would make it easy to release the slide with the right-hand shooters thumb. The slide stop was easy to use when performing a slide lock reload and there were no feed issues when doing so.

Range
Shooting the Guardian was as I expected. It ran without any problem's with the various mags and ammo used. The Guardian balanced nicely in the hand and even though it's an alloy frame, the recoil was minimal, even with the +P ammo. Double-Tap's and transitioning between target's seemed to be faster (I don't have a timer) than shooting my Kobra Carry, but this would make sense since it is a 9mm as opposed to a .45ACP. The spent cases ejected properly and I never got hit in the forehead by a hot case.

Accuracy
It's pretty darn accurate, it really is. Shooting was done un-supported with a "Combat Grip" and in a 2 handed isosceles stance. Here's a quick phone pic of the last 5 rounds (Gold-Dot) that i shot for the day at 15 yards. The the flyer was the 1st round. I believe i used the slide stop as a release to chamber the first round. I didn't shoot at 25 yards because there isn't any lighting that far back at the range i go to.

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Overall I feel that the Guardian is a great value. It's well built, reliable, accurate and priced right. If this is how all Dan Wesson's are, I now understand the whole COTEP thing.
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Old 09-26-2010, 14:08   #14
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GT's interactive 1911 guide...

Introduction


I’d like to start by thanking all of you for making this truly the best 1911 forum on the web. I’ve been to all of them and keep coming back here where the knowledge, character, and humor of the members is unsurpassed.

I’ve gotten several inquires about a thread that was running during the late spring/early summer of 2008. It was regarding the best 1911s in each price range and, apparently, it was helping some people make the difficult choice in picking the model that fit them when presented with so many. I did not start the thread and, I among others, can’t seem to track it down. Likewise, I decided to write this thread to help those that asked and also update the information I listed before. As most know, 1911s are built by a number of companies and people. Finding the perfect gun for everyone in each price range is an impossible task that I won’t even attempt to accomplish. The following information is based only on one man’s opinion and its also based on the limits of my collection. I refuse to comment extensively about 1911s I don’t have personal experience with. That said, I will try to list the characteristics of each, regardless where my preference ranks it. This list is comprised primarily of 1911s that are currently available new. I own several military guns and/or 1911s that are no longer in production. With a couple exceptions, these will not enter the discussion until the end. I will include my discontinued 1911s that can be found (some very sparingly) on the used market in the last section of this guide. In addition, this work is designed to be edited as I continue working towards completing my collection.

Another mention is that all of the models to be reviewed have been running great. A few had a failure or two during the first couple of magazines, but have since been perfect. Unless, I mention otherwise for some of my newer additions especially, most of these pistols have 500-1000 rounds through them. I fully realize that’s not much, but it’s the best I can do at this point considering time restraints and the sheer quantity of guns included. That said, the lion’s share of a 1911’s potential problems will normally surface by this point, if not earlier. 1911s generally run smoother after a couple thousand rounds have been fired through them. My effort in this guide is by no means a torture test, nor is it a test of longevity, its simply a means to get the quick information sought by members looking for a 1911 in a certain price range. It can also serve to possibly sway somebody to hold off for a 1911 in the next category up. As far as categorization is concerned, I grouped these pistols in several different classes, based on features, characteristics, quality, and price. I don't wish to offend anybody who thinks his or her particular model should be ranked in a different category than where you see it here. I enjoy 1911s in all price ranges, as evidenced in this thread. However, this report was also written to encompass the entire 1911 “food chain” and, therefore, I had to break them up the best way I know how. It must also be noted that several of my 1911s, especially the more expensive models, include some factory options. The prices listed do not include these extra options, but I will certainly mention them in my description. Other than factory options, none of these models have been modified in any way, shape, or form. They are completely stock. While proper modification is certainly a great way to fix a particular shortcoming, it will not give a true measurement of the 1911 in question.

Furthermore, it goes without saying that these groupings and rankings are by no means the law of the land or the “bible”. They are certainly subject to debate, as I’m far from an expert. Like many others here, I’m simply an enthusiast who loves sharing information, pictures, and ideas with those who either share my passion now or are just getting started in the vast world of 1911s. I’m also looking at these entries as just the start of what will hopefully become one of the best threads our group ever put together. Likewise, please make my pages the “kick off” to a thread where people possessing more knowledge than I can share range reports, detail reports, modification ideas, and the like. Doing so will make this report infinitely more meaningful in comparison to what I’m offering alone. This is not only an open invitation, its my hope and I would like nothing more than to see it come to fruition.

So, without any further ado, let’s get started, shall we?










USGI Replicas


I’ll start with the GI replicas. In my opinion, these are some of the cleanest looking 1911s built today and many people prefer the classic look, especially if they have no plans for carry. What a true GI replica lacks, among other features, are the standard enhancements necessary for the reliable extraction of cases and the easy feeding of non-rounded bullets. These enhancements are known as a lowered and usually flared ejection port and a polished feed ramp, respectively. Another thing to keep in mind when considering a true GI replica is that the sights are very small and hard to see for some. Though, as you’ll notice here, some of these models “cheat” and include larger sights as well as other subtle enhancements over true GI spec. The listings here are very affordable, with the most expensive models topping out at the $600 mark. The one GI replica I don’t own yet is from USFA, which is much more expensive, but possibly the best example built today. It will be added to this guide once acquired.










Rock Island Armory Government

We’ll start off with Rock Island Armory. Their Government model is outstanding for the money. It’s got a decent trigger and solid reliability. It can still also be had for $400 or even under, making it one of the least expensive 1911s on the market. However, those seeking a true replica need to look elsewhere. The Rock Island lacks an arched mainspring housing or lanyard loop. It also has a lowered and flared ejection port, which helps feeding of defense ammo, and a beveled magwell. The Rock Island is actually close to a Springfield Mil Spec in configuration, but with GI sights and vertical serrations. If that’s important to you, the RIA is a nice choice. Personally, I like a more accurate replica better, but that certainly doesn’t make the Rock Island a bad gun. On the contrary, these enhancements can likely make it a better range pistol. The grips are smooth wood examples that look nice, though are a bit slippery at times. The finish is an authentic looking parkerizing and the slide to frame fit is surprisingly tight with little side-to-side movement. Slide markings consist of “Rock Island Armory” and the logo on the left. The right side is clean. RIA 1911s are built in the Philippines by Armscor.

This 1911 uses no firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 39.8oz

Slide: Extruded carbon steel

Frame: Cast carbon steel

Country of origin: Philippines

Approximate 2010 street price: $400

http://www.armscor.com.ph/pistols_gi.htm


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ATI FX45 Military

Next we’ll look at the ATI FX45 Military. This model, and the rest of the ATI 1911 line, just came on the market in the summer of 2010. The FX is built by Shooters Arms Manufacturing (SAM) in the Philippines and sells for just over $400. This 1911 is solid and noticeably heavy in weight at over 41oz. It utilizes fully checkered mahogany grips, an arched mainspring housing, an extra wide spurred hammer, a lanyard loop, and slightly larger sights. The ejection port is not lowered, in true USGI style. This is a tight 1911 and there is very minimal movement between the slide and the frame. In fact, its no doubt one of the tightest I’ve seen at this price point. As of this writing, I have not fired this model, but ATI's new line has gotten some decent reviews in its early life. I will say this 1911 feels impressive in hand and I’ll make a point to get it to the range soon. From an appearance standpoint, the parkerizing is well done. However, the roll marks are needlessly large and lengthy, with a full “American Tactical M1911 Military” on the left side, and logos galore on both sides around the gun. I feel this detracts from an otherwise good looking replica.

This 1911 uses no firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 41.2oz

Slide: Forged carbon steel

Frame: Cast carbon steel

Country of origin: Philippines

Approximate 2010 street price: $425

http://dealer.americantactical.us/products?product=1405


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Norinco 1911A1

I’m now going to talk about a 1911 no longer imported into the United States, in the Norinco 1911-A1. While values are steadily increasing, they can still be found in like new condition for $400-$500 on the used market. The Norinco is one of my favorite USGI replicas and is built in China from heavy duty recycled forged railroad steel. Refined and polished, they are not, but construction quality is unsurpassed at this price point. The sights are small, but equipped with white dots for ease in aiming. The ejection port is lowered, but not flared, and the finish is a thin bluing. The trigger is heavy, but certainly not out of the realm for a USGI and the serrated mainspring housing is equipped with a lanyard loop. Roll markings are humorous, in my opinion. The right side is clean, but the left side states “Model of the 1911A1 - 45 Automatic”, which sounds as if some of the meaning was lost in translation. To me, these are very impressive guns and I’m quite fond of them. I like the way they handle at the range as well. In fact, in my opinion, they more closely represent the look and feel of real USGI models, than any other replica I own. My example is the deluxe model, which is the same as the standard model, other than the addition of wood grips.

This 1911 uses no firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 39.0oz

Slide: Forged carbon steel

Frame: Forged carbon steel

Country of origin: China

Approximate 2010 street price: $450


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IAC Regent

The next entry is the new IAC Regent 1911. Built in Turkey, this is a handsome GI replica with a clean appearance that stands out in this crowd. Its finish is a very even black oxide. This 1911 utilizes authentic looking checkered plastic grips and an arched mainspring housing. The sights are small and hard to see, in standard GI fashion, but curiously, its missing a lanyard loop. A wide spur hammer is used and the ejection port is lowered slightly but not flared. This is one of many new kids on the block and I only have one box of trouble free rounds through it at the time of this writing. I found the trigger heavy, but crisp at the same time. Accuracy was nothing special, but certainly on par with others in this category. Its good looks and solid feel should make it a player in the GI replica market. As with many replicas, roll markings are minimal. The left side is stamped with “Regent 1911-A1” and the right side is blank. The font is well done. It must be said the overall fit and finish of the Regent seems just a little nicer than most of its competition at $500 or below.

This 1911 utilizes a series 80 style firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 39.2oz

Slide: Cast carbon steel

Frame: Forged carbon steel

Country of origin: Turkey

Approximate 2010 street price: $450

http://www.iacshotguns.com/1911a1.html


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Para GI Expert

Para Ordnance introduced the GI Expert last year and I picked up one up solely for this thread. I now have 150 trouble free rounds through it. While that’s not nearly enough to draw an accurate conclusion, it’s an encouraging start. This gun performed well at the range. The GI Expert is really a Mil Spec 1911, with larger white dot sights and a lowered and flared ejection port. It also has a skeletonized hammer and trigger like an enhanced model. It’s a curious combination from an aesthetics standpoint, but I don’t find it a bad looking model overall. The black oxide finish is very even and similar to the Regent, but a bit rougher in texture. While I’m not a huge fan of Para in general, due to their cast slides and silly marketing gimmicks, the Expert seems to be a reserved, more traditional 1911 and a decent value. Likewise, roll marking is tasteful, with just “Para 1911” on the left side and “GI Expert” on the right. A drawback is the cast slide and plastic mainspring housing. Once again, we have yet another GI 1911 with the series 80 firing pin safety. Para feels the needs to include it on all their 1911s, actually. This is obviously the carbon steel version, but Para also recently added a stainless GI Expert to their lineup as well.

This 1911 utilizes a series 80 style firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 37.8oz

Slide: Cast carbon steel

Frame: Cast carbon steel

Country of origin: Canada

Approximate 2010 street price: $500

http://www.paraord.com/new/product_pistol.php?id=73


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Auto Ordnance 1911A1

Auto Ordnance has been making GI replicas for many years and for years, these guns earned a well-deserved reputation for sub par workmanship. I think they have improved a great deal over time and I’ve never had an issue with mine. That said, I’m not in love with the trigger or the rather rough parkerized finish. It is close to the real USGI in spec with its small sights, proper hammer, checkered plastic grips, arched mainspring housing, and lanyard loop. Even the roll markings are well done and in flavor with the originals. The left side simply states “Model 1911A1 U.S. Army”, while the right side is clean. One notable difference between this and true USGI spec is the presence of a Series 80 firing pin safety. Why something like that would be included in a replica like this is beyond me. However, as you can see by this guide, the Auto Ordnance isn’t alone with this needless safety. I don’t agree with it, especially on a replica, but it obviously doesn’t stop me from buying them. If I’m not mistaken, this is the least expensive American built 1911 on the market. Now owned by Kahr Arms, Auto Ordnance’s quality and quality control is on the rise, in my opinion. This 1911 isn’t stellar in terms of accuracy, but was 100% reliable for me in the 500 or so rounds I put through it.

This 1911 utilizes a series 80 style firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 39.6oz

Slide: Forged carbon steel

Frame: Cast carbon steel

Country of origin: United States

Approximate 2010 street price: $525

http://www.auto-ordnance.com/PA-1AO_pkz.html


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Old 09-26-2010, 14:09   #15
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Cimarron 1911A1

Cimarron is an American based firearms manufacturer that primarily outsources production of its firearms overseas. Their handgun offerings were strictly revolvers, before this new 1911 came on the market very recently. This is yet another model built by Armscor in the Philippines. It was inspired by and produced for Wild Bunch Western competitive shooting and Cimarron's intention was to keep it as close to the 1918 model as possible. Likewise, this 1911 uses the standard frame, instead of the scalloped A1 version, a flat, and a smooth mainspring housing complete with a lanyard loop. Cimarron's roll marks are also in the 1918 tradition. Overall, I think Cimarron and Armscor did a good job bringing the 1918 style back to life at the very affordable price of $550. In fact, I'm not aware of anybody that's currently building a 1918 replica. It even comes with double diamond checkered wood grips. The only discernable differences I see is the slightly lowered ejection port, which is basically an Armscor slide standard, and the 8-round mags it comes with. Obviously, the latter is an easy fix. I recently got a few rounds though it and it seemed decent, as are all my Armscor built 1911s. I had one failure on the second mag, but the rest of the box was fine. One puzzling note is why Cimarron calls this model by the “A1” moniker when the clear intention was to copy an earlier design.

This 1911 uses no firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 39.4oz

Slide: Extruded carbon steel

Frame: Cast carbon steel

Country of origin: Philippines

Approximate 2010 street price: $550

http://www.cimarron-firearms.com/MAIN%20NEW%20ITEMS.htm


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EMF Hartford

The EMF Hartford is a recent addition to the market. At $550, its one of the least expensive American built 1911s available. The finish is listed as "as issued" and it has a distinct worn look to it. I’m not sure if I like it or not, but its certainly unique. The texture is rough and it sparkles under bright light. The mainspring housing is arched and checkered, with an obviously smooth front strap. Curiously, the trigger is longer than true 1911A1 spec and the sights are considerably larger. I have no problem with the sights, but I like a short trigger with an arched housing. The hammer has a wide spur and the grips are an attractive looking double diamond checkered wood. Oddly, this 1911 uses a stainless bushing, which conflicts with the idea behind the rest of the gun’s specs. Slide marks are fairly large on the left side, but nonexistent on the right. I have yet to get this 1911 to the range, but the mag doesn’t feel overly secured in the frame by the catch. A slight touch of the mag release and it drops, so I have my doubts of its reliability in that regard. I hope to get it to the range in the very near future, but wasn’t able to in time for this effort.

This 1911 uses no firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 38.4oz

Slide: Forged carbon steel

Frame: Cast carbon steel

Country of origin: United States

Approximate 2010 street price: $550

http://www.emf-company.com/


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Remington 1911R1

Remington released its first 1911 in over 90 years this past June. Its dubbed the Remington 1911 R1 and is supposed to be the first in a new series of 1911s from one of the oldest American firearms companies. At roughly $600, its one of the most affordable American built 1911s available. With its semi-glossy black oxide finish, beautiful checkered walnut grips, relatively clean roll marks, and tastefully done sliver accents, I find it one of the nicest looking 1911s on the current market. I'm grouping this gun with the GI replicas, but it does have some enhancements, including significantly larger white dot sights, beveled magwell, and a lowered and flared ejection port. At this time, I have only fired 50 trouble-free rounds through mine, but was impressed by how this pistol handled. Roll markings are also well done, with a simply “Remington” on the left side and “1911R1” on the right. I wouldn’t mind if the font were a size smaller, but overall very tasteful. As do some others, Remington felt the need to include the series 80 firing pin safety in their first 1911. I very recently got a box of range ammo through it and it performed flawlessly. If this gun is any indication, I think Remington has a good future in the 1911 business and I’m certainly looking forward to their next offering.

This 1911 utilizes a series 80 style firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 39.0oz

Slide: Forged carbon steel

Frame: Cast carbon steel

Country of origin: United States

Approximate 2010 street price: $600

http://www.1911r1.com/


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Springfield GI

The last 1911 I’m going to discuss in this category is also the first Springfield in this guide, the Springfield GI. I feel this is probably the best overall GI replica that I own. While mine is stainless, a more authentic looking parkerized version is also available for slightly less money. I’ve had this gun for years now, but if I had to do it over, I’d probably go with the parkerized version. I like stainless, but it doesn’t fit this style of 1911. Anyway, the Springfield GI is a solid feeling, well functioning replica built in Brazil from forged IMBEL steel. It is also a favorite among many 1911 smiths for custom work. In true 1911 A1 fashion, the GI comes with an arched mainspring housing and short steel trigger. The sights, of course, are standard GI spec and quite small. The customary lanyard loop is present on the bottom of the mainspring housing. The double diamond checkered wood grips with the “US” badge are obviously not traditional 1911A1 GI equipment, but look very nice. Roll marking is quite clean with just “MODEL 1911-A1” on the left side of the slide and nothing on the right. The gun has shot well for me. Its been 100% reliable through 700 rounds or so, though I don’t believe its ever fired a single hollow point bullet. The one thing I don’t care for is the key lock integrated into the mainspring housing, but this is standard equipment on all the production Springfield 1911s.

This 1911 uses no firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 38.4oz

Slide: Forged stainless steel

Frame: Forged stainless steel

Country of origin: Brazil

Approximate 2010 street price: $600

http://www.springfield-armory.com/armory.php?model=6


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For appearance comparison purposes only, here are real WWII era USGI 1911A1s from Remington Rand and Ithaca. They are both in excellent shape, though reparkerizing was done at some point.





Remington Rand USGI

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Ithaca USGI

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Old 09-26-2010, 14:09   #16
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Entry Level Enhanced


Now I’m going to compare what I consider the entry level enhanced 1911s. While gun prices are always increasing, for the sake of this report, let’s keep current prices to $650 and under. These guns are an outstanding way to get into the 1911 world, without spending a fortune, and most of them make solid, dependable shooters. Practically all of these 1911s have standard frames without much of a high grip radius. None have night sights and all of their frames are cast, with the exception of the Taurus. What these 1911s lack for the most part is the fit and finish of the next category up, but its all about function at this price range anyway. In that faucet, these 1911s deliver and deliver well.





Firestorm DLX

The first 1911 I’m going to post in this category is the relatively new Firestorm DLX model. Firestorms are also built in the Philippines. However, the company is Metro, not Armscor. I believe you’re looking at the least expensive enhanced 1911 on the current market, or very close to it. Mine was just under $400, if I remember correctly. They’re also sold under the “American Classic” name. This gun has some things going right for it. The finish is nicely blued, the trigger has an odd shape, but is good, the white dot sights are easy to see, and it has an easy to operate extended slide release. The Firestorm has the standard GI setup on the business end. Roll marks are somewhat large, but not obnoxious. There are a couple side notes on the DLX. First, the skeletonized hammer has an odd lattice center, as you can see in the link. Also, the wood grips, while decent looking, are just that, wood grips. There is no finish on them whatsoever. It feels different in hand, but it also acts as a non-slip surface. With no checkering, the rough feel to the grips comes in handy. This 1911 has been trouble free in the 250 rounds I fired through it. If you want a bargain basement enhanced 1911, grab a Firestorm DLX for many fun days at the range.

This 1911 uses no firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 38.8oz

Slide: Forged carbon steel

Frame: Cast carbon steel

Country of origin: Philippines

Approximate 2010 street price: $400

http://www.gunblast.com/Firestorm-1911Deluxe.htm


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Charles Daly EFS

Another very affordable enhanced 1911, at about $450, is the Charles Daly EFS. This pistol has also been a great performer for me with no failures to speak of. The trigger is better than some of the others in this category selling for more money. The EFS also comes standard with an ambi safety for all you lefties, which is almost unheard of at under $500. The finish is an even looking with nicely done bluing. The Charles Daly has a standard GI plug up front, instead of a full-length guide rod. The sights are simply combat style, with no white dots, and the grips are nicely done double diamond checkered wood. The serrated mainspring housing is chamfered to eliminate the sharp corner, unlike the Firestorm previously discussed. Roll markings are also nicer than that of the Firestorm, with a simple “Charles Daly” on the left side and nothing on the right. While Charles Daly 1911s have been built in different countries over the years, the latest, including mine, were built by Armscor in the Philippines. They seem to have a hand in quite a few 1911 brands these days, as you can see by this guide. In fact, at the present time, the Charles Daly name has been replaced by Citadel, but the model line is nearly identical and they remain a good choice for someone looking for an enhanced 1911 at the lowest prices.

This 1911 uses no firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 38.4oz

Slide: Extruded carbon steel

Frame: Cast carbon steel

Country of origin: Philippines

Approximate 2010 street price: $450

http://www.charlesdaly.com/1911.asp


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Taurus PT1911

Next we’ll discuss the controversial Taurus PT1911. This gun seems to be a “love it or hate it” model. It comes with more features than any other 1911 in its price range, including a forged frame, an ambi safety and front strap and trigger guard checkering. I’ve been known to give this model some harsh criticism over the years, but I’ll certainly keep it professional here. I’m giving this model kudos for its forged parts and numerous features. However, my opinion is that Taurus needs to work on the tradeoff between quality and quantity. The “blued” finish leaves a great deal to be desired, but in all fairness, the stainless version renders that point moot. Other than that, I find the parts fitting shoddy and checkering deplorable. My PT1911 has been perfectly reliable though about 500 rounds, but the ambi safety literally fell off and I had to refit it about halfway through those rounds. I haven’t shot it since then. Like some other models in this category, the PT uses a full-length guide rod as standard equipment. The hammer has a key lock mechanism used to disable the gun, much like Springfield does in their mainspring housing. I find these systems unnecessary and aesthetically unpleasing. The Taurus has some things going for it, but as you can determine, I’m not a fan of this model and there are many that share my opinion. Quality control and poor allocation of funds are the main culprits, in my eyes. Some guns have been great, while others have been problematic. Taurus is also not known for their great customer service, so I ask you to keep these issues in mind when looking for an entry level 1911.

This 1911 utilizes a series 80 style firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 40.6oz

Slide: Forged carbon steel

Frame: Forged carbon steel

Country of origin: Brazil

Approximate 2010 street price: $550

http://www.taurususa.com/products/pr...ategory=Pistol


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Iver Johnson Eagle

Next up is yet another Filipino 1911, and the first of four straight $650 1911s in the guide. This is the Iver Johnson Eagle, with the optional polished blue finish. This line of product is another recent addition to the market, shipping in the second half of 2009. This particular model is basically their top of the line 1911 and polished finish is surprisingly good for the money. The Eagle is complete with easy to see target sights and an extra wide spatula-like slide release. The beavertail is comfortably fit and the action is smooth. Like the ATI FX45, this is built by Shooters Arms Manufacturing, but unlike the FX, its fitted with Iver Johnson small parts. As with most other Filipino 1911s, this gun is fit with a steel mainspring housing. The front end uses the standard GI plug setup and the grips are nice double diamond checkered wood with the old Iver Johnson owl logo. As shown in the pictures, one unique characteristic of this gun is the angle of the slide serrations. Unlike other models with angled serrations, these do not match the grip angle of the 1911. Roll markings are simple, albeit slightly large. The slide to frame fit is loose and the trigger is a bit heavier than it should be, but it shot fine in the 200 rounds I put through it. Overall, I think the Eagle is a nice pistol with some unique features, but ultimately doesn’t compare overly well with the next three 1911s in the same price range.

This 1911 uses no firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 40.8oz

Slide: Forged carbon steel

Frame: Cast carbon steel

Country of origin: Philippines

Approximate 2010 street price: $650

http://www.iverjohnsonarms.com/3001/3052.html


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Thompson Custom

Another $650 enhanced 1911 is the Thompson Custom. Auto Ordnance, who is owned by Kahr these days, builds this model. The Thompson has only been produced for a couple years now and a limited number have been produced thus far. Likewise, you don’t see many around. This model is everything the STI Spartan isn’t, but nothing it is. As far as enhanced entry level 1911s go, the Thompson probably has the nicest fit and finish. Checkering in this price range is rare, but checkering this good at $650 is non-existent with the exception of this model. The dark double diamond checkered wood grips with Thompson medallions are well done and look great against the stainless finish. The grip safety has a very solid feel to it. The sights are nothing special, but give a decent sight picture despite having no white dots. The roll markings are well done, with the Auto Ordnance “bullet” logo on the left and “Thompson Custom 1911” on the right in tasteful lettering. The big issue I have with the Thompson is the trigger. It feels like wood. Its not overly heavy, but has no “feel” to it whatsoever. Maybe I got a bad one, but if it weren’t for the trigger, the Thompson would probably be my favorite entry level 1911. This model comes standard with a full-length guide rod and, unfortunately, a plastic mainspring housing. If you can get past the trigger, this is a reliable, good looking 1911.

This 1911 utilizes a series 80 style firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 39.0oz

Slide: Forged stainless steel

Frame: Cast stainless steel

Country of origin: United States

Approximate 2010 street price: $650

http://www.auto-ordnance.com/PA-1TH_c.html


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Last edited by bac1023; 09-29-2010 at 20:59..
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Old 09-26-2010, 14:10   #17
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Desert Eagle

The next entry is one of the newest models on the market, in the Desert Eagle 1911, and its built by BUL in Israel. This model became available this past spring and was a pleasant surprise from a quality standpoint in this price range. At $650, it has the best trigger of any 1911 this side of the STI Trojan and certainly the best trigger in its price range, just edging out the STI Spartan, in my opinion. This pistol features a steel mainspring housing, which several in this category don’t. The grips are nicely made wood double diamond style. Its complete with a beveled magwell and a full length guide rod. The sights are combat style with, again, no dots. This frame is the only one in the category that’s machined for a high hand grip under the trigger guard. The slide roll marks are very large on the left side, with nothing whatsoever on the right. I only have about 100 rounds through this gun, but it performed very well at the range. I'm not quite ready to say that this 1911 is a better gun than the STI Spartan, due to my limited experience and the gun's limited track record. However, the finish and feature set are also both nicer than the STI’s, along with the previously mentioned trigger. Both are about the same price.

This 1911 uses no firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 39.8oz

Slide: Forged carbon steel

Frame: Cast carbon steel

Country of origin: Israel

Approximate 2010 street price: $650

http://www.magnumresearch.com/Desert_Eagle_1911.asp


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STI Spartan

The last entry in this category is the gun I’ve mentioned a few times already, and that’s the STI Spartan. Its yet another 1911 built in the Philippines by Armscor, but this time fitted with STI small parts. While its not the prettiest 1911 in the world, it makes up for it in its ability as a shooter. I have a good number of rounds through this gun and have recommended the Spartan to countless people in the time I’ve owned it. The sights are well done and visible, with an orange fiber optic up front and an adjustable target sight at the rear. It comes standard with a full-length guide rod and a rather dull parkerized finish. Roll markings are fine with “STI Spartan” on the left side of the slide and a blank right side. Grips are checkered double diamond. I find the plastic trigger very crisp for a $650 1911 and no movement can be detected between the slide and frame. A downside is the plastic main spring housing, though it is chamfered to eliminate the sharp corner. I’ve made it clear over the last couple of years that this model has my vote as the best entry level 1911 on the market. As of now, I stand by that. After this effort, I promise a comparison range report between this and the Desert Eagle 1911. As good as the Spartan has always been in my eyes, it just may be dethroned by the newcomer. Time will tell.

This 1911 uses no firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 38.2oz

Slide: Extruded carbon steel

Frame: Cast carbon steel

Country of origin: Philippines

Approximate 2010 street price: $650

http://www.stiguns.com/guns/Spartan/Spartan.html


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Low End Production

First off, I apologize in advance if I offend anybody with the name of the category. The following are great 1911s, but since the purpose of this guide is to help people make purchases based on their budget, I have to separate the categories. These are simply the enhanced 1911s in the $700-$1000 range and any would make a great choice as a first and perhaps only 1911. I’ve only got three models that I will discuss in this category. I originally had four 1911s to discuss here, but Dan Wesson’s serious price hike caused me to move the CBOB up market.





Smith & Wesson SW1911

Let’s start with the first Smith & Wesson in this guide, in the standard SW1911. Since there are several 1911s under this badge, the model I’ll be discussing is SKU 108285, which may be the most popular and least expensive model. It’s got the blued finish, checkered walnut grips with medallion, Novak white dot sights, and a standard GI recoil guide. The front strap is not checkered, but it is serrated and gives a decent grip over nothing at all. The gun itself is not overly tight, with some slide to frame movement, and an especially loose trigger. Judging from the other SW1911s I’ve handled, the trigger seems to be a common trait. However, it doesn’t hurt its performance at the range in my hands at least. I like the polished blue flats and grip safety with the memory pad. It’s also the only 1911 I own in this category with a steel mainspring housing. One thing S&W 1911s do have is the external extractor, which bothers some. I personally never minded them. The frame on this pistol is high cut for a better grip. Roll markings are minimal and well done. Smith & Wesson got away from the large billboard that detracted from the appearance of the earlier models. I think it’s an attractive, good shooting pistol. These 1911s use a firing pin safety that resembles Colt's series 80 system at first glance, but is released by the grip safety rather than the trigger.

This model utilizes a Smith & Wesson firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 39.8oz

Slide: Forged carbon steel

Frame: Forged carbon steel

Country of origin: United States

Approximate 2010 street price: $750

http://www.smith-wesson.com/webapp/w...09&isFirearm=Y


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Kimber Custom II

Next up is the first Kimber in this guide. Its their entry level Custom II and it fits firmly into this category. Its one of the tighter 1911s, from a slide to frame standpoint, in its price range. The finish is an even matte black with black rubber grips. The frame is nice with a high grip radius. Like all Kimbers, the grip safety is flat without the memory pad. It also includes front serrations, as do the other full size Kimbers. The guide rod is full length. I’m a Kimber fan and really like this 1911 overall. The trigger is one of the best in its price range. The entire gun is a nice combination is smooth and tight, with a good trigger and decent accuracy. Yes, Kimber, like many others, uses cast frames and some metal injection molded parts (MIM). However, I never had an issue with any of mine. Two complaints I do have about the Custom II are the plastic mainspring housing and the lack of white dots on the sights. While the sights don’t bother me, some really have difficulty without the dots. Roll markings are well done, as they are on all Kimber models. I find the Custom II a classy looking, good shooting pistol and feel it makes a good choice as someone’s first 1911.

This 1911 utilizes the Swartz firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 37.8oz

Slide: Forged carbon steel

Frame: Cast carbon steel

Country of origin: United States

Approximate 2010 street price: $750

http://www.kimberamerica.com/pistos/custom/custom_II/


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Colt Commander XSE

The last 1911 in this brief category is also the first Colt in this guide, with the XSE model. I have the stainless commander version, but they’re also available full size in stainless or blue. First and foremost, this 1911 uses Colt’s upgraded frame with a good cutout behind the trigger guard for a nice high grip. In fact, it’s the only Colt I own with a high grip radius. The gun comes with an ambi safety and a full-length guide rod. In typical Colt fashion, the front strap is smooth and the slide to frame fit is quite loose. The stainless finish is decent with polished flats. The ducktail grip safety is flat with no memory pad, along with all the Colts, and the mainspring housing is plastic. The sights are combat style with large, easily visible white dots. The grips are attractive double diamond checkered rosewood. Roll marks are cratered like all new Colts, but nicely done otherwise. Overall, if you want a very affordable pony, it’s not bad. However, there are better choices in this price range, in my opinion. I believe Colt XSEs are over $900 now. They also come standard with a plastic main spring housing and front serrations. I’m not big on front serrations on a commander. In fact, it’s the only commander I own with front cocking serrations. At the range, this 1911 has been flawless and acceptably accurate.

This 1911 utilizes Colt's Series 80 firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 35.6oz

Slide: Forged stainless steel

Frame: Forged stainless steel

Country of origin: United States

Approximate 2010 street price: $950

http://coltsmfg.com/products-c5-q7-COLT_PISTOLS.aspx#


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Last edited by bac1023; 09-29-2010 at 21:00..
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Old 09-26-2010, 14:11   #18
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Mid Range Production


For lack of a better term, that’s what I’ll call this group of enhanced 1911s in the $1000-$1300 range. At this price range, I will be discussing six guns, one stand out model, one classic model, one lightweight carry model, one bobtailed model, and two low end models that are priced higher due to some additional features and cosmetics.





Colt Gold Cup Trophy

We’ll start the category off with a classic, in the Colt Gold Cup Trophy. Mine is the stainless model. The Gold Cup is a completely different pistol from the other pistols in this grouping. Its an old school 1911 without all the modern features so common today. The Gold Cup was one of the first enhanced models to hit the market in the late 50’s. As I stated, it lacks modern enhancements, such as an extended safety, beavertail, memory pad, or a high hand grip. One trademark of the Colt Gold Cup is the wide trigger that is nearly the same width as the trigger guard. This gives the pistol a unique feel. As I mentioned, mine is the “Trophy” model, which Colt began to produce in the late 90’s. Its all stainless, with a three hole trigger and skeletonized hammer, which the older Gold Cup National Match doesn’t have. It also features wrap around grips to secure your hands to an otherwise smooth front strap. Roll markings are a bit cratered, which is common for newer production Colts, but are otherwise tastefully done. In typical Colt fashion, its got a loose slide to frame fit. Regardless, of the exact model in question, the Gold Cup is a well built pistol that’s been around for ages. I bring this 1911 to the range often and its been perfectly reliable in close to 2000 rounds.

This 1911 utilizes Colt's Series 80 firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 39.0oz

Slide: Forged stainless steel

Frame: Forged stainless steel

Country of origin: United States

Approximate 2010 street price: $1000

http://coltsmfg.com/products-c5-q54-COLT_PISTOLS.aspx#


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STI Trojan

Next up is, by far, my favorite 1911 in this category, the STI Trojan. It’s got the smoothest controls, the best trigger, and, frankly, just the best build quality of any I’ve experienced at its price. The Trojan’s frame is cast and offers a very high grip, due to the cut out under the trigger guard. The front strap uses the popular chain link pattern for a secure grip. Though it works well for me, I do prefer checkering. The slide serrations are large and a bit unsightly, but very easy to grip. The trigger and mainspring housing are plastic, which is a downside to an otherwise excellent pistol. Mine has a few options, such as hard chrome, an ambi safety, and a red fiber optic front sight. This 1911 is a pleasure to shoot at the range and does everything exceptionally well. The cocobolo grips with the logo are a nice touch. Keep in mind that the Trojan comes standard with thin grips, but mine has the ambi option, so standard thickness grips had to be used. Roll markings are large with the left side sporting a horse that looks to have been drawn by a preschooler. Fortunately, new production Trojans have this design omitted. If you want the best $1000 1911 on the market, look no further. I’ve been pushing this 1911 on potential buyers for years now and will continue to do so.

This 1911 uses no firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 38.8oz

Slide: Forged carbon steel

Frame: Cast carbon steel

Country of origin: United States

Approximate 2010 street price: $1050

http://stiguns.com/guns/Trojan5.0/Trojan50.php


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Para 1911 Limited

Para's 1911 Limited is in this price range, which is basically Para's top of the line single stack 1911. As I mentioned before, I'm not a huge fan of Para. This “flagship” model uses a cast slide and frame, a plastic trigger and mainspring housing, and a slide serration/finish combination so slippery that its nearly impossible to rack without cocking the hammer first. This gun has four different tones to the finish. The slide is "sterling" and black, while the frame is stainless. The controls are then done in satin steel. Its looks decent at first glance, but it is an odd combination. The guide rod is full length and an ambi safety is standard. The grips are nicely done checkered double diamond cocobolo, but with an unnecessary gold Para logo on them. Gold lettering was a mistake, in my opinion, especially considering the gun already shows four colors. I also feel an $1100 1911 should have some sort of front strap treatment, but this is as smooth as a baby’s rear. The one thing I do really like about this pistol are the sights. Here we have large Bo-Mar style rear target sights, with a bright red fiber optic front. They're virtually identical to the sights on my STI Trojan and Springfield TGO1 and I love them. Unfortunately, great sights can't rescue an $1100 Para from being a poor value. At the range, this 1911 does perform well enough, though I have fewer than 1000 rounds through mine. This gun features Para’s “Power Extractor”, which is an enlarged extractor said to enhance reliability. Gimmicky items like that don’t usually impress me, but so far, so good.

This 1911 utilizes a series 80 style firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 38.6oz

Slide: Cast stainless steel

Frame: Cast stainless steel

Country of origin: Canada

Approximate 2010 street price: $1100

http://www.paraord.com/new/product.php


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Kimber Pro CDP II

The next 1911 I'm going to speak about in the mid range production category is my trusty Kimber Pro CDP II. This is the only aluminum framed 1911 I own and I bought it as a carry gun years ago. The stainless slide is slightly melted and finished in satin silver. The gun features neatly done 30lpi checkering on the front strap and trigger guard, an ambi safety, night sights, and a 4" bull barrel. The mainspring housing is, disappointingly, plastic, which just should not be present on an $1100 1911. I've been carrying this gun for quite a while now and it has never let me down. I've got about 1500 rounds through it at this point. I'm a fan of bull barrels and find this gun very accurate for a 4" production 1911. The grips are nicely checkered double diamond rosewood. In typical Kimber fashion, the roll marking is done well, with Kimber Custom Shop on the left and the model name written in small letters on the right. As with all three of my Kimbers, this model is a series II model, which incorporates the firing pin safety. I’m not a huge fan of aluminum 1911s, but I do find them convenient for daily carry.

This 1911 utilizes the Swartz firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 29.0oz

Slide: Forged stainless steel

Frame: Aluminum

Country of origin: United States

Approximate 2010 street price: $1100

http://www.kimberamerica.com/product...dp/pro_cdp_II/


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Dan Wesson CBOB

I’m going to include my Dan Wesson CBOB in this category. When I bought mine in 2007, it was priced just under $1000. The CBOB was basically discontinued for 2010, but used examples have risen in cost at an outrageous rate. I believe they command at least $1200 nowadays in new condition. The CBOB is a very tight, well-fitted commander. Many of the parts are Ed Brown and its got the looks to match its impressive performance. The stainless finish is well done, the trigger is crisp, and the cocobolo grips are beautiful. The checkering is 25lpi and while its not nearly as nicely done as some more expensive models, it gives a firm grip to the shooter. The CBOB uses a cast frame and comes standard with night sights. The bobtail itself is an Ed Brown part and not for everyone. However, I love the look and the way they handle. This model is still the least expensive bobtailed 1911 on the market, as far as I know. As with all Dan Wesson 1911s, the CBOB is a great looking, great shooting gun. This pistol was a terrific value just a couple years ago, nowadays its priced more appropriately. There are no MIM parts to speak of. In 2010, the CBOB has morphed into the Valor-based VBOB and uses a forged frame. At the range, this 1911 was overly tight at first, but settled in nicely and is now a superb shooter.

This 1911 uses no firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 35.8oz

Slide: Forged stainless steel

Frame: Cast stainless steel

Country of origin: United States

Approximate 2010 street price: $1200

http://www.cz-usa.com/product_detail.php?id=66


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Last edited by bac1023; 09-29-2010 at 21:00..
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Old 09-26-2010, 14:11   #19
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Sig STX

The last entry in this category is also my lone 1911 from Sig Sauer. The STX is Sig’s top of the line model from the custom shop. This model has good fit and finish, albeit an odd color scheme. It comes fully loaded with adjustable night sights, a magwell, ambi safety, and beautiful smooth burled maple grips with the Sig logo. 25lpi checkering is present on the front strap, while 20lpi adorns the mainspring housing. The STX has a standard GI recoil guide setup and an external extractor. The slide lacks front serrations and the rear serrations are curved to apparently give it that custom shop look, which I could do without. The top of the slide is also flattened and serrated. One thing I don’t like about the Sig 1911s is the non-traditional shape of the slide. Like Sig’s service pistols, its squared off and cut to be thinner on the top half. However, my biggest complaint about this 1911 and that of other Sig 1911s I’ve handled, is the trigger. It seems to lack the feel of others in the same price range. Its not heavy, but its also not crisp. Of course, this is my opinion, and certainly not shared by everyone. The Sig STX is a strong performer at the range and a solid, quality build using good parts, but just not quite my style. Others love Sig 1911s, so check them out for yourself.

This 1911 utilizes a series 80 style firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 40.4oz

Slide: Forged stainless steel

Frame: Forged stainless steel

Country of origin: United States

Approximate 2010 street price: $1200

http://www.sigsauer.com/Products/Sho...&productid=130


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High End Production


These are the production 1911s in the $1300-$2000 price range. Obviously, these prices are going to yield some superior 1911s over the models previously discussed. As I mentioned before, there may be a model or two entered here that you feel should be posted elsewhere. However, after some hard thought, this is where I feel the following 1911s fit in the grand scheme of things and I have them categorized accordingly.





Springfield TRP

My first entry here is an extremely solid production pistol in the Springfield TRP. I have the stainless model, but the TRP is available in two other configurations with a black finish. Many consider this to be the best production 1911 built by anyone and I wouldn't argue that point of view. The TRP comes standard with a host of features including an ambi safety, coarse 20lpi checkering on the front strap and mainspring housing, night sights, G10 grips, combat style night sights, and a magwell. For better or worse, the TRP also has a two-piece guide rod. I like them, most don't. I won't go as far to say that the TRP is an exceptionally smooth 1911, but there's certainly something solid about its feel. Just picking it up screams "heavy duty". Not surprisingly, this is the heaviest 1911 I own. As far as the 20lpi is concerned, please be cautious. I like it, but it is rough if you aren't used to it. I strongly advise anyone to handle one of these before buying sight unseen. TRPs generally sell for $1300-$1500, depending on configuration. The stainless finish is nicely done and has a matte look to it. Roll markings are cumbersome, as they are on most Springfield 1911s, and this gun also has the customary key lock in the mainspring housing. At the range, this gun performs remarkably well, with little felt recoil and great accuracy.

This 1911 uses no firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 42.0oz

Slide: Forged stainless steel

Frame: Forged stainless steel

Country of origin: United States

Approximate 2010 street price: $1400

http://www.springfield-armory.com/armory.php?version=27


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Fusion Custom Commander Elite

Fusion has taken some heat as of late and for very good reason. I bought mine in 2007 and haven't experienced any problems. The name of my particular model is the Custom Commander Elite. One thing about Fusion is that you can basically get whatever you want. They can be customized in many ways to include finish, features, grips, caliber, barrel length, etc. The finish on mine is what Fusion calls “Pro Series Black Oxide”, but its similar to the masses of black finishes on the market today. This gun is fairly decked out to include a magwell, checkering on the front strap and mainspring housing, an ambi safety, and a serrated slide top. The grips are nicely done out of smooth spalted maple and the slide is naked on both sides, making this a clean looking, attractive pistol. The frame has a notch cut out under the trigger guard to enable a slightly higher grip. The guide rod is the standard short version with the checkered plug. As for the gun as a whole, its a smooth and accurate shooter and so far 100% reliable. What it isn't however is a semi-custom. Fusions are production quality, from the tool marks inside the slide, to the overall fitting of the parts. I only paid $1200 for mine brand new, but they have gone up considerably in cost and I don't feel they're worth the price these days, especially with all the quality control problems that seem to be cropping up recently.

This 1911 uses no firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 38.0oz

Slide: Forged stainless steel

Frame: Forged stainless steel

Country of origin: United States

Approximate 2010 street price: $1500

http://www.fusionfirearms.com/


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Dan Wesson Valor

Dan Wesson has been a hard entry for me, because they have changed quite a bit since I bought both of mine. What we have here is a 2008 Valor model, serial number 24. This early Valor was Dan Wesson's first high end production model and certainly the precursor to where they stand a couple years later. The finish is a black ceramic base over stainless, the grips are thin VZ, which have since been changed to a different set in 2010. These early valor grips are terrible in the fact that dirt and blackness shows up immediately. They have to be removed and cleaned with soap after every range session to restore their proper appearance. The gun features 25lpi checkering, a single sided safety, night sights, and a standard recoil plug. It also features a forged frame (now standard on all Dan Wesson 1911s), and several Ed Brown parts, to include the easily recognizable grip safety. Roll markings are almost nonexistent on this stellar looking 1911. The Valor has no MIM parts to speak of. This is one of the best choices in its price range and a smooth, accurate shooter. The Valor sold for $1250 or so when it first came out, but has since significantly risen in cost along with the rest of the Dan Wesson line. At this time, I really not sure how much value the Dan Wesson line represents. In the past, I thought they were outstanding in that regard. Still, if your looking for a great 1911 in the $1500-$1600 range, the Valor is certainly a viable option.

This 1911 uses no firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 38.8oz

Slide: Forged stainless steel

Frame: Forged stainless steel

Country of origin: United States

Approximate 2010 street price: $1600

http://cz-usa.com/products/view/dan-wesson-valor/


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STI Legacy

My next entry here is the STI Legacy. This has, unfortunately, been discontinued this past year, but its certainly recent enough for me to keep it in the main section of the guide. The Legacy was STI's top of the line 1911, before it was replaced by the Sentinel Premier. It used all of STI's best parts, to include the forged frame. It comes standard with 30lpi checkering on the front strap and mainspring housing, an ambi safety, a set of adjustable combat style sights, and a full-length guide rod. The top of the slide is flattened and then serrated in an attractive diamond pattern. I find that’s a nice touch. The slide is also lined with a design called a French border, which looks beautiful on this gun. The grips are smooth cocobolo and the cycling of this gun feels as smooth as the grips, so to speak. I take this 1911 to the range often, because its a pleasure to shoot. One thing it doesn't have is STI's normal styling. In fact, it's styling is much more traditional than what you see from any of STI's other offerings. Mine has the optional PVD finish, which STI offered for a short while. My lone complaint about this gun is the lack of a high grip cut on the frame under the trigger guard. The cast framed Trojan has it, but not the Legacy. Its not a huge deal, but certainly curious. I find this gun a unique, awesome looking, great shooting 1911 that you don't see often. Once in a great while they pop up on the used market, but STI didn't produce many of these in the first place. The Legacy sold for about $1600 without the optional PVD finish.

This 1911 uses no firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 39.6oz

Slide: Forged carbon steel

Frame: Forged carbon steel

Country of origin: United States

Approximate 2010 street price: $1600


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Last edited by bac1023; 09-29-2010 at 21:00..
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Old 09-26-2010, 14:12   #20
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Colt Special Combat Government

Colt's top of the line 1911 these days is the Special Combat Government. While this pistol isn't an outstanding value like the Springfield TRP, it certainly has style, personality, presence, and the most well known name in the 1911 world. The Special Combat comes in three finish configurations, blued, hard chromed, and the last, a two tone of bluing and nickel. Mine is, obviously, the two tone. This gun is somewhat behind the times compared to its competition and even its stable mate, the Colt XSE. The Special Combat's frame is not modified at all for a high hand grip, which is odd these days on 1911s of this price. There is no checkering to speak of, nor any memory pad on the end of the grip safety. It does come standard with an ambi safety, target sights, and a magwell. The dark wood grips work well with its color scheme and vertical serrations are my favorite. Its rare to see them on an enhanced gun. In typical Colt fashion, the slide to frame fit is fairly loose. The roll markings looks great in context and style, but suffer from the cratering common on all new production Colts. This is a fun range gun with its smooth shooting, classic looks, and accomplished pedigree.

This 1911 utilizes Colt's Series 80 firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 41.0oz

Slide: Forged carbon steel

Frame: Forged carbon steel

Country of origin: United States

Approximate 2010 street price: $1650

http://coltsmfg.com/products-c5-q63-COLT_PISTOLS.aspx#


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Smith & Wesson PC1911

Next up is my other Smith & Wesson 1911. This time from the Performance Center, which is the company's in-house custom shop of sorts. These guns have a retail price of well over $2000, but the street price is about $1900 new. I debated whether or not to categorize this gun with the semi-customs, but in the end, I feel this is exactly where it belongs. As good as the are, they just don't have that custom feel. Its somewhat hard to explain. Like the most of the guns in this category, this 1911 comes standard with all the bells and whistles. Included are finely done 30lpi checkering, an ambi safety, a full-length guide rod, and a magwell. The sights are Wilson Combat adjustable. As with all Smith & Wesson 1911s, the Performance Center model uses an external extractor, though the Performance Center's is thicker than the standard extractor used on their SW series. Mine is the matte stainless model, but its also available in carbon steel with a melonite finish. This gun is well built, but not overly tight. You can certainly feel some movement between the slide and frame. However, its nothing to be concerned about. My disappointment with this gun is the fact that Smith & Wesson still felt it necessary to include a firing pin safety. It is my belief that customers who spend $2000 on a 1911, don't want extra gadgets included for no apparent reason. That safety should be left off these premium guns, in my opinion. As you can imagine, the Performance Center 1911 is smooth and accurate.

This model utilizes a Smith & Wesson firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 40.8oz

Slide: Forged stainless steel

Frame: Forged stainless steel

Country of origin: United States

Approximate 2010 street price: $1900


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Kimber Super Match II

The last entry before I get into the semi-custom guns is my personal favorite of the group, the Kimber Super Match II. This is Kimber's flagship model and the only 1911 it produces with an accuracy guarantee. That happens to be a 25 yard, 5-shot group measuring 1" or less. The frame and slide are both stainless steel, with the slide being finished in black KimPro II. This model features fine 30lpi checkering on the front strap, mainspring housing, and trigger guard bottom. An ambi safety, full-length guide rod, and magwell are all standard. The sights are simple black on black adjustable target. Roll markings are nicely done and the KimPro finish on the slide looks outstanding. I've taken some heat and criticism over the last couple years for my stanch support of this 1911, being it’s a $2000 that incorporates several MIM parts. True, you can get a better quality 1911 from Les Baer for the same price. However, this gun is so smooth, so accurate, and so nicely finished and appointed, that its apparent to me that its more than the sum of its parts. I shoot it more accurately than any of my 1911s in this price range and several of my 1911s costing more. That can't be taken lightly. Flame away, but I really love this Kimber. Its my favorite personal production 1911 available today.

This 1911 utilizes the Swartz firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 40.6oz

Slide: Forged stainless steel

Frame: Cast stainless steel

Country of origin: United States

Approximate 2010 street price: $1950

http://www.kimberamerica.com/product...uper_match_II/


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Semi-Custom


Now we're stepping up to some choices for those looking for a top tier 1911. As you'll see, there are many to choose from. I'm going to organize this part of the guide a bit differently than the production section. Instead of grouping these 1911s by price range, I'm going to group them by manufacturer. I’ll start by briefly discussing the company itself and then breaking down into the models I own. I'm doing this because, for the most part, you get the same level of quality at both ends of each semi-custom manufacturer's price range. By and large, the differences are mainly features, finishes, and an occasional accuracy guarantee. These guns are very high quality and built to extremely high standards. Any of them would be a 1911 that shoots great and lasts a lifetime.





I'll start out with one of the oldest names in the high end 1911 world, Wilson Combat. This shop is based in Arkansas and has been in business since the 70's in one capacity or another. Wilson 1911s are, without doubt, the most popular of the semi-customs. I believe they sell the most guns and employ the most people. They are refined, well finished, and tough as nails. The two examples I own are the CQB and Classic Super Grade. I decided on these two models to own both the most popular Wilson and the top of the line model.


Wilson CQB

First, I'll discuss the CQB. This pistol is actually Wilson's "entry level" model. Of course, starting at $2550 MSRP these days, its hard to call it entry level. This is the gun that first comes to many people's mind when the best 1911s are discussed. That’s for good reason, as this 1911 is top notch in every way. Features are standard, but it has everything you need. The guide rod is the standard GI setup. The finish is Wilson's Armor-Tuff in your choice of color. Checkering on the front strap and mainspring housing is 30lpi and very well done. The frame is high cut for a secure grip and the sights are Wilson's Combat Pyramid night sights. Mine has the ambi safety option and Wilson will make the changes you ask for if you order new. Being their most popular 1911, Wilson sells more CQBs than any other model. The pistol comes standard with Wilson's 1" at 25 yard accuracy guarantee. In typical Wilson fashion, slide roll markings are exceptionally clean. Needless to say, this is a great shooting 1911. It was one of my first high end models and I have quite a few rounds through it at this point. The Wilson CQB is also available in several calibers.

This 1911 uses no firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 40.0oz

Slide: Forged carbon steel

Frame: Forged carbon steel

Country of origin: United States

Approximate 2010 street price: $2300

http://www.wilsoncombat.com/p_cqb.htm


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Wilson Classic Super Grade

Next we'll discuss Wilson's top of the line 1911, in the Classic Super Grade. When it comes to this gun, my statement about equal build quality within semi-custom shop models goes out the window. The Super Grade (both Classic and Tactical) is widely thought of as one of the best 1911s in the world and certainly the pinnacle of the semi-custom models. The Super Grade is just that; super. Everything about the gun is perfect, from the checkering, to the fitting, to the entire feel of the gun. Its built like a full house custom, by one smith. These top smiths work separate from the other "production" smiths at Wilson. Needless to say, the Super Grade comes standard with all the goodies, to include a serrated slide top, a checkered slide rear, adjustable night sights, an ambi safety, and a magwell. It also has a full-length guide rod and the standard Wilson 1" accuracy guarantee. At the range, this gun is incredibly smooth. I can’t even feel the slide cycle and the brass flies the same way every time. My only complaint about this pistol is that I feel the standard finish should be upgraded on a $4500 1911. Still, there's nothing wrong with Armor-Tuff. Mine has a stainless frame. As great as this pistol is, the price puts it in competition with some extremely good custom guns from some of the best smiths in the world.

This 1911 uses no firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 40.4oz

Slide: Forged carbon steel

Frame: Forged stainless steel

Country of origin: United States

Approximate 2010 street price: $4300

http://www.wilsoncombat.com/p_supergrade.htm


1911 Forums

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