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Old 09-26-2010, 14:11   #21
bac1023
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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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Old 09-26-2010, 14:11   #22
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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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Old 09-26-2010, 14:12   #23
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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


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Old 09-26-2010, 14:12   #24
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Next up is another main player in the semi custom world, and that is none other than Ed Brown. Ed Brown got started in the 60's as a gunsmith and opened his own shop in the late 80's primarily building parts. It wasn't long before he was the owner of a shop that hand built complete guns. Today, Ed Brown is considered by many to build the best 1911s in the land. Their 1911s are beautiful to look at and certainly second to none in terms of build quality and fit and finish. I'm not going to call them the best semi-customs, because I like them all, but what sets Ed Brown apart is the fact that they use a great deal of in-house parts. Furthermore, Ed Brown's parts find their way into many other company's 1911s as well. The beavertail is probably the best and most easily recognizable part of its type on the market and the bobtail is an Ed Brown invention used by many. Like Wilson, the two Ed Brown models I own are both the most popular and the top of the line model, in the Kobra Carry and Classic Custom respectively.


Ed Brown Kobra Carry

Starting with the Kobra Carry, we have a commander length 1911 with a bobtailed frame. Mine is all stainless, but this model is available in carbon steel as well as two tone. This gun features an Ed Brown metal work pattern called "snakeskin" on the front strap, slide, and mainspring housing. While I prefer the looks of classic checkering, this pattern works very nicely also, having plenty of grip. Mine has the ambi safety option, but that is not standard on the Kobra Carry. As with all Ed Browns, this is a clean 1911, with the name marked on the right side and the left side left blank. Newer Ed Browns use a slightly different style in terms of marking. I prefer the old markings, but both look nice. Grips are double diamond checkered cocobolo, the sights are combat style night sights, and the recoil spring guide is the standard plug setup. This is one of the most accurate commanders I ever shot, bar none. The bobtail itself takes some time to get used to, but I love the look and feel. Its main purpose is to reduce printing by the butt of the gun when concealed. The Ed Brown Kobra Carry is not only the most popular Ed Brown, but also one of the most popular high end 1911s of all time.

This 1911 uses no firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 35.6oz

Slide: Forged stainless steel

Frame: Forged stainless steel

Country of origin: United States

Approximate 2010 street price: $2300

http://www.edbrown.com/cgi/start.cgi/customhandguns.htm


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Ed Brown Classic Custom

The Ed Brown Classic Custom is a masterpiece in every way. This has all the bells and whistles and is Ed Brown's flagship handgun. What sets this 1911 apart from the other Ed Browns is not build quality, as all Browns are built to the same level of quality by the same smiths, unlike Wilson. What sets it apart is the high polished slide. Its like a mirror. It also has virtually all the options that Ed Brown offers. The slide rear is checkered, the slide top is flattened and serrated, the safety is an ambi, the mag release is oversized, and a two-piece guide rod is standard. The front strap and mainspring housing are both checkered beautifully at 25lpi, which is my favorite level of coarseness. The Ed Brown magwell was a $75 option and not standard equipment. The sights are large adjustable target style. It goes without saying that the Classic Custom is a magnificent shooter, so if you're looking for a 1911 to impress both on and off the range, you would be hard pressed to do better than this Ed Brown. As you can see, I went with the two tone version, but its also available all carbon and all stainless.

This 1911 uses no firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 41.0oz

Slide: Forged carbon steel

Frame: Forged stainless steel

Country of origin: United States

Approximate 2010 street price: $3100

http://www.edbrown.com/cgi/start.cgi/customhandguns.htm


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The next manufacturer on the list is Les Baer. This man has been in the 1911 business for many years and used to head up Springfield Custom, before starting on his own. He now owns a semi-custom shop that produces a couple hundred pistols per month and is considered by many to build the best pistols in the business. Les Baer 1911s are always remarkably tight. The supplied bushing wrench is an absolute must when field striping. While they do "break in" to an extent, the tightness remains. Les Baer 1911s have real personality, in my opinion. From the cardboard box they ship in, to the signed certificate by everyone who took part in building it, to the obviously hand checkered front strap, Les Baers have some characteristics that set them apart from their competition. What they don't have is all the refinement of a Wilson or Ed Brown, but make up for that with character and "soul". The two models I own are the Concept V, which is an introductory model, and the flagship carry gun, the SRP.


Les Baer Concept V

First, I'll discuss the Concept V, which is a full size, full stainless target pistol. The Concept series are basically Les Baer's entry level guns. The least expensive is the blued Concept I at a current retail of $1690. The Concept V is full stainless with target sights and retails for $1870. Both have a street price of maybe $50 to $100 less. These pistols are very well appointed and Baer builds all of its 1911 with the same level of care and quality. The Concept V is a target gun and equipped with a large thumb safety, an ambi safety, and Baer rear target sights. The front strap is hand checkered at 30lpi, the mainspring housing is serrated, and the frame is machined to give a high hand grip. This, along with a comfortable beavertail, makes the Concept V a pleasure to shoot. The grips are checkered cocobolo and it utilizes a standard GI recoil guide and plug. I will add that I find the fine slide serrations of a Baer aesthetically pleasing and very easy to grip. Slide markings are typical of Les Baer with “Baer Custom” on the left side and the caliber stated on the right. The Concept series comes standard with a 3" at 50 yard accuracy guarantee.

This 1911 uses no firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 39.2oz

Slide: Forged stainless steel

Frame: Forged stainless steel

Country of origin: United States

Approximate 2010 street price: $1800

http://lesbaer.com/Concept5.html#


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Les Baer SRP

My other Les Baer is their flagship duty gun, the Swift Response Pistol or SRP. This is a carbon steel gun with the optional hard chrome finish. Mine also has the $295 1.5" at 50 yard accuracy guarantee. The SRP retails for $2490 or $2785 with the upgraded accuracy. This gun is incredible in every way. There is obviously some extra machining that takes place on this 1911, as the frame is very nicely deburred in every area. The front strap and mainspring housing are both hand checkered at 30pli. Combat night sights and an ambi safety are also standard. Along with its cardboard box, the SRP comes with a wood presentation case and several magazines. Needless to say this is one of the most accurate pistols I own, 1911 or otherwise. Its also one of the tightest pistols I own, both between the slide and frame and where it really counts, the business end. While the Ultimate Master is their most decked out top of the line competition pistol, the SRP is my favorite when it comes to Les Baer 1911s. At $2500, I also feel its certainly one of the better values in the semi custom world, bar none.

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: $2500

http://lesbaer.com/Swift.html


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I'm going to include Rock River Arms in this section even though they are not taking 1911 orders at this time. I feel they are simply too recent and just too good to leave out of the main part of this guide. RRA stopped building 1911s during the AR craze a year or two ago. That was truly a shame, as Rock River 1911s were outstanding and even better values. The folks that started Rock River Arms used to work for Les Baer, and there are certainly some similarities between their 1911 models.


Rock River Arms Limited Match

My RRA is their top of the line Limited Match. I have given this gun heaps of praise over the years and I'm not going to miss this opportunity to give it a bunch more. This 1911 is one of my three favorite semi custom models, along with the Wilson Super Grade and Springfield TGO1. The Limited Match has it all, to include awesome build quality, amazing accuracy, and about every feature you could possibly want as standard. The list of standard features includes an ambi safety, magwell, oversize mag release, Bo-Mar rear target sights, a serrated slide back to match the sights, a flattened and serrated slide top, and your choice of 20, 25, or 30lpi checkering on the front strap, mainspring housing, and trigger guard. The Limited Match is also standard with a two-piece guide rod and a 1.5" at 50 yard accuracy guarantee. This matches the best guarantee in the business and, as I mentioned, is a $300 option on the Les Baer models. You get all this, plus an optional upgraded finish (Black T or hard chrome) for $2500. The value is simply the best in the high end 1911 world, bar none. I find this gun exceptionally tight, especially up front, where it really counts. Its also an incredibly smooth and accurate shooter. The barrel is a Kart NM and this gun utilizes an Ed Brown grip safety. I will also note that this 1911 is one of the most comfortable I own to shoot. The grip is very high cut, with no radius whatsoever. Its one of only a couple 1911s I own that way. Between that and the Ed Brown beavertail, its fits in my hands incredibly. As with all RRA 1911s, the Limited Match is very clean looking, with no marking at all on the right side and only "1911-A1" on the left in small lettering. The slide has a subtle French border around the outside, with is tastefully done. Mine was also built with no front cocking serrations. Its extremely unfortunate this gun is no longer available new, because its one of the best ever built. I fear if RRA resumed building them, prices would be considerably higher. These guns command some high prices on the used market already. If you can find one, that is, because RRA wasn’t in the 1911 business long and didn't build many when they were.

This 1911 uses no firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 41.4oz

Slide: Forged carbon steel

Frame: Forged carbon steel

Country of origin: United States

Approximate 2010 street price: $2500-$3000


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Old 09-26-2010, 14:13   #25
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Next we will talk about a truly outstanding builder in Springfield Custom. Many will argue that this is a true custom shop and I won't argue that point. I consider them semi-custom due to their standard models, coupled with the fact that the work is done by more than one smith. Still, I feel they do as good or better work than any other semi custom shop around. I'm also not crazy about the fact that current Springfield Custom guns use a MIM part or two. However minor it may be, its inexcusable on $2500 and up 1911s.


Springfield TGO1

The model I will discuss is Springfield Custom's top of the line 1911, the TGO1, which is Rob Leatham's signature pistol. He shoots every one of these pistols before its shipped to the customer. From what I understand, Springfield has only built a few hundred of these 1911s. Mine is a 2002 model with the serial number 44. It was built when Springfield was still using the Nowlin barrels and no MIM parts whatsoever. This is one of the nicest finished 1911s I own. Its a two tone Robar finish, with the frame being NP3 and the slide being Roguard. The slide to frame fit is incredibly tight and the gun very accurate and smooth. I can't feel any of the action cycling when fired. Standard features include an ambi safety, magwell, adjustable rear Bo-mar sight with fiber optic front, a two-piece guide rod, and 20lpi front strap checkering. It also comes with two sets of thin grips, which include the RL grips pictured and a set of black micarta. I consider this gun on a level playing field with my previously mentioned Wilson Super Grade and Rock River Limited Match from a quality and performance standpoint. The TGO1 is really that good. This is one of my top three semi-custom 1911s.

This 1911 uses no firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 40.8oz

Slide: Forged carbon steel

Frame: Forged carbon steel

Country of origin: United States

Approximate 2010 street price: $3000

http://sgcusa.com/Handguns-Springfie...duct_info.html


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To round out the big four semi custom shops, along with Wilson, Ed Brown, and Les Baer, we will discuss Nighthawk Custom. Unlike those previous three, Nighthawk has not been around for a long period of time. This is, by far, the youngest of all the major semi-custom shops. From what I understand, it spawned from a group of smiths leaving Wilson Combat, which is basically across the street in Berryville, Arkansas. Nighthawk is impressive to me just from the sheer variety they offer in their models and options. They are probably the most customizable of all the semi-custom builders and deliver on what they promise. Customer service is second to none and I ordered both of mine directly from Nighthawk. I feel they build some of the most aesthetically pleasing 1911s around. They are very well appointed in stock form and offer a couple things the other builders don't, such as hand stippling. The two models I own are the Predator II and Enforcer. Both are unique 1911s in their own way and both are finished in hard chrome, as I don't care for the thin Perma Kote standard black finish. I'll also add that whoever does the chroming for Nighthawk (I believe its Metaloy) does a fantastic job. Its some of the nicest hard chrome I've ever seen.


Nighthawk Predator II

First, I'll discuss the Predator II. The "II" designates a commander, which is a full size frame and a 4.25" barrel. The Predator has the same specs as the Talon, but with the special bull barrel and blast shield. The Predator II retails for $2950 and comes equipped with a serrated slide top, a checkered rear of slide, a special bull barrel, a magwell, and front strap and mainspring housing checkering. I bypassed the magwell, in lieu of a bobtailed frame and mainspring housing. I also went with the hand stippling option instead of the standard checkering for something different. Other options include a fiber optic front sight, ambi safety, smooth spalted maple grips, and previously mentioned full hard chrome finish. The rear sights are Heinie Straight Eights. I honestly don't have many rounds though this Nighthawk, maybe 200. I will say that its bull barrel setup makes it an accurate commander length 1911 and the extra weight up front from the blast shield makes it a soft shooting 45ACP. The roll marks are well done, as they are on all Nighthawk pistols. The left side of the frame has the logo, while the right side bears the model name in a tasteful font size and style. All my options certainly drove the price up considerably, but I feel they were worth every penny.

This 1911 uses no firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 38.4oz

Slide: Forged carbon steel

Frame: Forged carbon steel

Country of origin: United States

Approximate 2010 street price: $2900


http://www.nighthawkcustom.com/detail.aspx?ID=10


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Nighthawk Enforcer

My other Nighthawk Custom is the outstanding Enforcer model. This model is not to be confused with the earlier Enforcer model that is now called the GRP. This gun's base price is $2995 and is my favorite from Nighthawk, being based off the old Vicker's Tactical gun. It features a magwell and plunger tubes that are part of the Caspian frame, instead of being bolted and staked on, respectively. In addition to that, the Enforcer comes standard with top and rear slide serrations, 25lpi checkering on the front strap and mainspring housing, ball cuts up front, Heinie Straight Eight sights, a rounded butt with lanyard loop, a recessed slide stop, and a flush crowned and recessed barrel. Its a very nice looking 1911 and business-like in its appearance. The options I went with were an ambi safety, hard chrome finish, no front cocking serrations, and a set of half checkered cocobolo grips. The Enforcer has a standard recoil plug. I probably have more rounds through this 1911 than any other semi custom I own. Its just one of those guns I gravitate towards when choosing what to take to the range with me. While I prefer my top three favorite semi customs that I’ll mention later, the Enforcer is only a half step down. Its a great 1911.

This 1911 uses no firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 41.2oz

Slide: Forged carbon steel

Frame: Forged carbon steel

Country of origin: United States

Approximate 2010 street price: $2900

http://www.nighthawktactical.com/The_Enforcer.html


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Next we'll discuss a young company that built itself around a new caliber, the 50GI. The name is Guncrafter Industries and they got started in 2004 building 1911s chambered for a new 50 caliber self defense round. The shop is headed up by master smith Alex Zimmerman and from what I understand, he’s a great person to do business with. The original models were simply the Model 1 and Model 2, both designed for the 50GI, but able to be converted to 45ACP. In more recent times, however Guncrafter has introduced a couple models built around the 45ACP. These are the models that peaked my interest.


Guncrafter Industries “No Name”

Earlier this year, I picked up a "No Name" model as my first Guncrafter 1911. This gun is refreshingly different in some ways to the masses of semi-customs available. First is the standard Melonite finish. There really aren't many 1911s that come with that finish as standard from the factory. Second is the 15lpi checkering. I'm not aware of anyone else that offers checkering this coarse as standard. Its present on both the front strap and mainspring housing and I like it. The third is the completely naked slide as standard. This is rare as well and one of only two 1911s I own with this characteristic, the other being my Fusion. I know many of you order your 1911s like that, but this is standard spec for the appropriately termed “No Name”. The gun itself is top quality, very tight, and great shooting. It features Heinie Slant Pro night sights, and a flattened and serrated slide top. This gun includes Shredder grips, but I went with the olive drab Alumagrips made for Guncrafter. Between the 15lpi checkering and the grips, your hand does not move at all. I did a very positive range report on this gun in June. A search will easily bring it up to those interested. I highly recommend this 1911 for anyone looking for a high end 1911 slightly off the beaten path.

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: $2500

http://www.guncrafterindustries.com/pwnn.shtml


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Lastly, we will speak about another newcomer in the semi-custom 1911 world. Luke Volkmann of Volkmann Custom has been in business just a few years now. He is basically a one-man show. Luke used to work for Ed Brown, before opening his own shop. I have spoken to him personally and he is a heck of a nice guy, doing great quality work. Why is Volkmann entered here instead of the custom section, you ask? Its due to the models listed and options available. Still, if someone wants to call his business a full house custom shop, that's certainly understandable. Volkmann reminds me of Ed Brown quite a bit, actually, and the models line up well. The Volkmann Signature is very similar to the Ed Brown Classic Custom and they stay remarkably parallel right through the product line. Volkmann prices have gone up quite a bit from two years ago and now I fear value for the dollar is somewhat lacking when compared to the competition. My thought is that Luke is trying to compensate for increasing overhead and also differentiate himself from the semi-custom shops and establish himself as a premier custom builder. A higher price point, believe it or not, could help him do that. Amidst the economy in which this significant price hike took place, it can only mean Luke is trying to move up market. Being that he is different than the semi-custom shops, I don't blame him for trying.


Volkmann Combat Custom

My Volkmann is the Combat Custom, which is his basic full size duty gun. I bought it very shortly after he got his start and the base price was $2495. Now, they're up $500, to a cool $3K. Its a great 1911, no doubt, but I'm not sure its a $3000 1911. To me, its about on par with a $2500 Wilson CQB, which is not a bad thing. Also one of the options on the Combat Custom (for an extra $100) is a high grip cut. That should be standard, especially for $3000. The Combat Custom comes standard with 25lpi checkering on the front strap and mainspring housing, combat night sights, a serrated slide top, and a standard GI recoil plug. Mine has the optional ambi safety. As I mentioned, the frame is not machined for a high hand grip. As are all the 1911s in this category, this Volkmann is a great shooting pistol. I also like the exclusivity you get with one of these, in comparison to the guns from the bigger semi-custom shops. The roll marking is nice and I love the looks of the Volkmann logo. The grips I went with are VZ with the Volkmann medallion. Overall, we have a great guy building outstanding 1911s. However, I really feel they should be priced a little more competitively.

This 1911 uses no firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 40.8oz

Slide: Forged carbon steel

Frame: Forged carbon steel

Country of origin: United States

Approximate 2010 street price: $3000

http://volkmanncustom.com/combat-custom.php


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Old 09-26-2010, 14:13   #26
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Custom


Its time to discuss some of the best guns in the world, 1911 or otherwise. These are the full custom builds by some of the top 1911 smiths and custom builders. Custom guns are guns built for one person by, in most cases, one person. Its hard for me to really recommend my guns in this section to anyone, because your tastes and preferences are most likely different. What I can do is show you what I ordered and who I ordered from to give you some ideas. I own five of these masterpiece 1911s and will discuss each. As it stands, I have three scratch built customs and two that started life as new production Colts, one on a Series 70 and the other a WWI reproduction. More specifically, I have a build by Paul Liebenberg at Pistol Dynamics, George Smith and team at EGW, Ted Yost at Heirloom Precision, Mark Morris at MCP, and Brandon Strayer and team at Infinity Firearms. For those interested, there is plenty of information to be found on the web about the smiths I mentioned here, as well as others. I researched several magazine articles posted online and read a great deal of material on these individuals and shops before placing orders. I will add that as incredible as these are, they’re also quite expensive and certainly not necessary to experience the greatness of the model 1911.





Pistol Dynamics Signature

The first gun I'll discuss here is my Pistol Dynamics Signature. Paul Liebenberg is the owner of this company and the custom smith doing the work. Before starting his own company, Liebenberg worked for Pachmayr as well as starting the Performance Center at Smith & Wesson. He is a true master of his trade and incredible quality and workmanship of this pistol is evidenced as soon as you pick it up. This gun was ordered in 2007 and completed two years later. To ensure I got the build right, I spoke to Paul for a good hour when placing the order. It’s built on Liebenberg's in-house frame and features many Liebenberg exclusives. This certainly qualifies as having all the "bells and whistles". When I talked to Paul about my specs and preferences for this gun, no stone was left unturned. I will list the build sheet for this and all my customs, but the features on this Signature include a ball and "Browning" cut slide, Pistol Dynamics rear combat sights with a gold bead front sight, ambi safety, PD match grade barrel, magwell, 30lpi checkering on the front strap, mainspring housing, and trigger guard, a serrated rear of slide and top of slide, a high cut frame, a two piece guide rod, and a flush crowned barrel. The mainspring housing is slightly chamfered to eliminate the sharp edge (much like a rounded butt). Virtually every part is built in house. Two standouts to mention are the beavertail and bushing. The beavertail is a forged and machined part, not cast like just about every other beavertail in existence. It has a very unique look and a great feel. The bushing and front sight work together in what's called an ISS system, whereas the sight is slid into a linear dovetail and the bushing secures it in place. Another subtle custom flair to this gun is the mag release. Paul cuts the end of it on an angle facing your thumb for easier access. All of these features and more can be read about in detail on the website. The external extractor is a Liebenberg standard on his scratch built pistols. According to him, he gets substantially enhanced extraction and ejection over the traditional internal extractor. Truth be told, I never minded external extractors and since this is a signature pistol from Paul, I wanted it included. As far as slide marking is concerned, this 1911 features "Pistol Dynamics 45ACP" on the left side of the slide and the signature engraving on the rear of the right side. Both are tastefully done. Finally, the entire pistol was finished in matte hard chrome with black micarta grips made especially for this style of magwell. 2007 prices had this build at about $4800, but prices have gone up since. At the range, this gun is incredible, being both very tight and exceptionally smooth at the same time, which is no easy feat. I love everything about it and would recommend Pistol Dynamics to anyone looking for a full house custom from one of the world’s best. After all, you only live once, right?

The following are the gun's build specs.

Date: 12/01/2007 This quote valid for 14 days (updated 12/04/07)

o Chassis
• PD 1911 frame assembly
• PD 5” slide assembly w/ external extractor
• 17° cocking serrations
Included

o Accuracy
• Match grade slide to frame fit
• PD Signature Match grade barrel, crowned, 45 ACP
• PD solid ISS match bushing
• Stainless guide rod and plug – full length
• Wolff spring kit
Included

o Sights
• Front sight, PD ISS serrated ramp with gold bead
• Rear sight, PD Fixed
Included

o Trigger group
• Competition ignition system includes PD hammer, sear, disconnector and sear spring
• Long Aluminum trigger w/overtravel stop
Included

o Safeties
• PD custom machined beavertail
• Extended ambi - thumb safety
Included


o Custom metal work
• Custom slide-on Mag well, includes dedicated PD grips
• Front strap, hand checker 30 LPI
• Flat mainspring housing, hand checker 20 LPI
• Mag catch extended (.050”), rake and checker
• Sight, line rear 40 LPI
• Slide, line rear 40 LPI
• Slide, flat top and serrate 40 LPI
• Slide, Browning and ball cuts
• Checker trigger guard 30 lpi
• Carry bevel package
Included

o Magazine
• 2 – tested Wilson magazines
Included

○ Finish
● Hard Chrome entire pistol
● Signature engraving
Included



This 1911 uses no firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 41.0oz

Slide: Forged carbon steel

Frame: Forged carbon steel

Country of origin: United States

Approximate 2010 street price: $5000-$5500

http://pistoldynamics.com/index.html


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Infinity single stack


The next custom build I'll speak about is from Brandon Strayer and the folks at Infinity Firearms. I have thought for years that this company built some of the most innovative handguns in the world, whether it be a 1911 or double stack. As a custom gun builder, Infinity produces more than most, maybe 300 or so guns per year. That’s small time compared to a semi-custom shop like Baer or Wilson that ship 2000-3000 guns annually, but considering every Infinity is custom built off of customer supplied specs, its impressive. The Infinity customer uses a program called the Gunbuilder (now Gunbuilder II) to design his or her dream 1911. The options are virtually endless, hence the name. Mine is a standard carbon steel, single stack 1911, chambered in 45ACP. The barrel is one of the best in the business. It’s a Schumann Ultimatch AET bull barrel, with the Infinity exclusive titanium nitride coating, which gives it its gold color. Other features I specified include an ambi safety, “SV” hammer, Triglide trigger, a serrated slide top, Infinity front and rear target sights with a red fiber optic, a panel cut slide, and 30lpi front strap and mainspring housing checkering. The gun is finished in Infinity’s exclusive Jet-black Infinicoat. The grips are wood with the Infinity logo up and down the back. As you can see from the build specs, Infinity allows you be specific about every detail. Furthermore, there is a special instructions section to allow you to give other direction in addition to the Gunbuilder’s options. I spoke to Brandon for a while during the ordering process and he was as helpful and knowledgeable as they get. Between the 2lb Triglide trigger, tight fitting, AET barrel, and rigid bull setup, this is the most accurate 1911 I shoot. It goes without saying that I think extremely highly of Infinity and would not hesitate to recommend one of these sleek, competition-bred 1911s to anyone. All this quality does come at a considerable cost, however. My build, which is very basic by Infinity standards, ran just under $4000 in early 2008. Prices have risen a good bit at Infinity since that time, so you’re probably looking at a cool $4500 for this build today. Leave off the Infinicoat and AET barrel, and you would probably be at $4000 or slightly under. Still, if you’re going to buy a full house gun like an Infinity, why compromise?

The following are the gun’s build specs.

Design Name: bac3
Template Name: 1911 Govt. Length Pistol - Single Stack
Last Updated: 08/07/08
Quantity: 1
Special Instructions: The entire gun is Infinicoat Jet Black. However, please leave the AET barrel bronze. Also, the grip safety, ambi safety, trigger, hammer, and guide rod are to stay silver or stainless. Please do not coat these parts. I want them to stand out. Brandon, please include the new wood grips with the logo that you mentioned. Thanks for everything. Brian
AET Barrel Option: AET
Barrel: Plain Barrel
Barrel Length: 5
Barrel Style: Non-Bushing Style (Cone/Bull Barrel)
Caliber: 45 ACP
California/ Massachusetts Resident: No
Compensator: No Compensator
Dust Cover: Standard (all)
Dust Cover Fluting: None
Frame Material: Carbon Steel
Frame Style: Traditional (1911 single stack) Round Trigger Guard
Front Sight: Red Fiber Optic .100 wide x 1.5mm
Front Slide Cut: 20 lines per inch
Grip Length: Checkered Rosewood (Traditional frame only)
Grip Safety: Stainless Steel
Grip Surface / Finish: Checkered Front strap (Traditional)
Guide Rod: Stainless Steel
Gun type: Government (5 inch)
Hammer: Triple Xcelerated SV
Hammer Finish: Silver Finish
IPSC Modified Division Infinity IMM Special®: No (typical)
ITI Rail cut: No Rail Cut
Mag Well: No Magazine Well
Magazine Catch: Steel, 4-40 tap
Magazine Release Button: Small Blued Stainless-This option requires 4-40 magcatch.
Mainspring Housing: CS Flat
Panel Cut: Yes
Pistol Finish: Infinicoat Jet Black
Radial Flute: None
Rear Lightening: No
Rear Sight: Infinity® Rear Sight Absolute Target Zero
Rear Slide Cut: 20 lines per inch
Slide Lock Pin: Steel - 4140
Slide Material: Carbon Steel
Slide Profile: Round Top
Slide Racker / Lightening: No
Stirrup Cut: Yes
Strut: Steel
Thumb Safety Material: Stainless Steel
Thumb Safety Style: Ambidextrous Tactical
Top Rib: 30 lines per inch
Trigger Base color: Silver
Trigger Bow: Stainless Steel
Trigger Insert Color: Silver
Trigger Insert Style: Curved Medium
Triglide System: Yes



This 1911 uses no firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 39.0oz

Slide: Forged carbon steel

Frame: Forged carbon steel

Country of origin: United States

Approximate 2010 street price: $4500

http://sviguns.com/1101.php?indx=3


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Yost Retro Custom

Next we have a retro custom build from none other than master pistol smith Ted Yost at Heirloom Precision. Heirloom Precision is a small custom shop run by Yost, Steve Bailey, and Jason Burton. All three do outstanding work. Compared to the two previously discuss custom 1911s, this one is very subdued, which is exactly how it’s meant to be. This custom started life as one of Colt’s now discontinued run of WWI reproduction 1911s. After Yost got done with it, there is nothing left untouched and most parts are replaced with superior parts that were either built in the shop or outsourced. This gun is constructed from the best components available, but still retains much of the classic styling. Having said that, there is nothing about this gun’s feel that even remotely reminds me of the Colt it was before. The barrel is Kart and the sights are Yost retro, with the front sight using the gold line. 30lpi checkering is done on the front strap and mainspring housing and the ejection port is slightly lowered, but not flared. The gun was bead blasted and blued and retains the original gun’s roll markings, albeit they are completely smoothed and deburred. The wood grips were sourced from Hogue and look very nice on this build. Speaking of grips, Yost inscribes his name underneath the right grip panel to not take away from the clean, classic looks. I only shot this gun about 20 rounds so far. While I love it, I always gravitate towards the enhanced 1911s when it comes to range time. Retro custom conversions start at $4195 not counting the base gun. In this case the base gun sold for about $900, so you’re talking just over $5000 for one of these builds today. They were about $500 less back when I bought mine.

The following are the gun’s build specs.

Build Sheet, Colt WWI s/n: 2508WMK ,
Tighten frame and slide, 1911, steel, labor only
Bevel magazine well, 1911, hand filed, labor only Checker front strap @ 30 lpi, Government and Commander (includes Hi-cut & truing of front strap), labor only
Hand checker mainspring housing @ 30 lpi, including MSH
Premium Quality 1911 trigger job, includes Yost tool steel sear and aluminum trigger
1* back end treatment, labor only
High-cut & bob hammer to prevent bite, labor only
Supply and install plunger tube, new barstock steel, staked
Stock screw bushings, part only
Supply and install factory Colt serrated slide stop, blue
Supply and install Colt style thumb safety, dehorned
Supply and install Kart barrel w match bushing
Complete 1911 dependability package - Wilson Bulletproof extractor, tune ejector, polish feed ramp and throat barrel, polish breech face, chamfer firing pin hole, ream chamber if necessary
Lower ejection port, labor only
Supply and install Yost Classic Retro Sight Package - Yost rear, Silver brazed ramp front
Gold line inlay for ramp front sight (front sight not included), labor only
Dehorn complete pistol, labor only
Satin matte bead blast & blue complete pistol, 320 polish slide flats, labor only
Polish frame flats, labor only
1911 Grips-Hogue
Novak 8-round magazines and Pistol rug
Detail frame, straighten lines, etc., labor only
Cost of gun including mods: $4495.00



This 1911 uses no firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 38.6oz

Slide: Forged carbon steel

Frame: Forged carbon steel

Country of origin: United States

Approximate 2010 street price: $5000

http://www.heirloomprecision.com/inf...nversion.shtml


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Evolution Gun Works

The fourth custom 1911 I’m going to review is a build from Evolution Gun Works. Unfortunately, getting a custom gun from them is a thing of the past. George Smith, who owns the company and started it building 1911s, no longer takes custom orders. Today, he only makes parts, which, in fact, are some of the best in the world. Since the company is only a 15 minute drive from my house, I’ve been there a couple of times. This gun is built on a Caspian frame with a magwell and plunger tube being part of it. In fact, it’s the same frame Nighthawk uses for the previously reviewed Enforcer. The barrel on this EGW is 4”, making it a quarter inch shy of commander length. The barrel is a Storm Lake bull barrel and the lockup is extremely tight, as you can imagine. As with any of these custom guns, there is absolutely no slide to frame movement either. The rear sights are Novak, with a fiber optic front. Obviously, this gun is loaded with EGW internals, which are very high quality. The hammer used is the same one EGW builds for Smith & Wesson’s Performance Center models, called the Koenig. It has a unique look to it. The trigger is a flat EGW “E” trigger, but without the E-shaped cutout and the black finish is called E-Treat. I find the finish terrific. It has the same feel and consistency as Black T, but just a shade or two lighter in color. The checkering is very nicely done at 30lpi on the front strap and the arched mainspring housing is serrated. The grip safety is the outstanding Ed Brown part. The grips are beautiful double diamond, but I’m not certain which wood is used. The grain looks a lot like cocobolo, so that's what I'm leaning towards. This gun was not built for me, but rather for the owner of my local shop. He ordered it and it took three years to get done, as George was finishing his orders off a long waiting list. During that time, the owner bought a new custom carry gun, and being he knows what a 1911 fanatic I am, decided to sell the gun to me brand new for $2500. Dealer cost to him was almost $3000, so I got a great deal. Had I bought it from EGW personally, it would have cost $3300 or so. This is one of the last guns to come out of EGW. Naturally, there are a couple things I would have done differently if I ordered it, one being a standard front sight. I like fiber optics, but not on a barrel this short. I also would have gone with a flat mainspring housing, but I also like arched. Being that it’s a one of a kind build that can’t be replaced, I’m not changing a thing.

The following are the gun’s build specs. (Basically just the bill from EGW)

Package gun - $2800
Koenig Hammer - $40
Checker front and rear 30lpi - $200
E-Treat entire gun - $235
Dealer discount – ($400)

Total - $2875

Package Details
Fit and blend beavertail
Front and rear sights
Rear serrations
4lb trigger job for carry
EGW internals (Hammer, sear, disconnector, strut, ejector, extractor, slide stop, pin set)
Ed Brown thumb safety
Carry bevel pistol (dehorn)
Fit bull barrel
Test fire


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: Unavailable

http://egwguns.com/


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Morris Tactical Elite

The last custom 1911 I’m going to discuss is my latest build, a Tactical Elite by the great Mark Morris of Morris Custom Pistols (MCP). Like the other top custom smiths I’ve written about already, Mark has been in the business for many years and introduced the Tactical Elite in 1994. In fact, shortly thereafter, Massad Ayoob bought one and wrote a great article for Guns magazine. Mark is a one-man show and someone who takes great pride in his work. Likewise, he told me several times that nothing leaves his shop until he is 100% satisfied of how it turned out. I believe Morris produces only about 10 to 12 guns per year at most. When he takes on a project or two, he posts them on his site, waits for them to sell, and then gets the specs from the buyer. It must also be stated that Mark is one of the most personable people I’ve ever spoken to in the gun business. I wanted this particular gun to be a bit more subdued and clean in appearance in comparison to my previously discussed Pistol Dynamics and Infinity. Likewise the specs are geared towards creating a simple, yet elegant custom 1911. This build started life as a new production blued Series 70 Colt. It was a good example as well, as Mark only selects the best from his supplier. All the custom reliability and straightening work aside, I went with 30lpi on the front strap and mainspring housing and 40lpi serrations on the back of the slide to match the sights. The top of the slide is also serrated. The barrel is a Morris stainless match barrel and is step crowned for protection. The standard GI setup is present up front with a smooth plug that Morris builds himself. The trigger I went with is my new favorite style, the short solid aluminum variety, and the sights are all black Morris TKO. In my efforts to keep this gun as clean as possible, the sights are classic black on black and free of dots or beads. Along those same lines, I did not want an ambi safety included on this build. The grips were initially going to be the Morris Alumagrips, but I changed to the milled tulipwood thin grips from Ahrends, pictured on the sight. Of course, Mark threw in a set of Alumagrips anyway and I love them. As with my Liebenberg, this gun is finished in terrific looking matte hard chrome, which is done by the same company who does the chroming for Les Baer. However, its also done to a higher degree of quality and not in the same batch as the Baer pistols. Likewise, it looks nicer than the chrome on my Baer SRP. As far as slide markings are concerned, they’re, again, simple. First we have the standard Series 70 Colt roll marks on both sides of the slide, which have been completely cleaned up. After that, the custom markings are the yin-yang logo on the right rear of the slide and “Morris Custom” on the left dust cover. Obviously, the gun purposely lacks some of the features of my Liebenberg, but the parts fitting and blending is the best in my collection. I got the opportunity to put a few rounds through this beauty recently and it shoots unbelievably well.

The following are the gun's build specs.

- Tighten slide to frame fit

- Remove factory mill markings

- Fit S&A grip safety and highly modified mainspring housing. Blend completely into frame.

- Fit and smooth Ed Brown thumb safety

- Front strap and mainspring housing checkered 30lpi

- Chamfer mainspring housing and bottom of frame for snag free carry.

- Fit Morris stainless barrel, throat and polish. Step crown barrel for protection.

- Fit Ed Brown ejector and extractor

- Machine in Morris TKO rear site and dovetail Novak front sight.

- Back of slide serrated 40lpi to match TKO rear sight.

- Fit short aluminum match trigger

- C&S hammer, sear for the trigger group. Change the angle of the seat engagement for a very clean break.

- Top of slide serrated

- Ejection port lowered and flared

- Chamfer the firing pin hole, polish the breach face and disconnect race for reliability.

- Complete dehorn to remove sharp edges.

- Bead blast the slide and frame flats to 400 grit

- Entire gun finish in matte hard chrome by Terry Wolford.



This 1911 uses no firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 39.0oz

Slide: Forged carbon steel

Frame: Forged carbon steel

Country of origin: United States

Approximate 2010 street price: $7000

http://morriscustompistols.com/


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Old 09-26-2010, 14:14   #27
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Now I’d like to discuss some 1911s that are no longer available and haven’t been for some time. These are guns at various price points that can be found on the used market, albeit a couple may be a bit difficult to find. I have a strong attraction to rare and/or hard to find 1911s and, due to that, did not want to leave these completely out of the guide.





Colt Gold Cup National Match

I’ll start by talking about a true classic from yesteryear. This is a pre series 70 Colt Gold Cup National Match. In its day, it was probably the best 1911 you could buy. Its got the old royal blue finish, which is one of my favorite finishes of all time. The gun itself is void of the “Gold Cup” marking and is only labeled as such on the box. These guns were produced from 1957 to 1970, with mine being born in 1967. In 1970, the Series 70 Gold Cups were introduced. Its difficult to report on this Colt, because it hasn’t been shot since it put rounds through the test target six years before I was born. Still, I felt it prudent to bring it up because I have shot old Gold Cup National Match 1911s in the past and can say that they’re a real pleasure to shoot. There’s just something classic and nostalgic about them and they fire with utmost accuracy. This is and always will be a safe queen for me, but wouldn’t hesitate to buy another in “shooting” condition. In typical Gold Cup National Match fashion, it has a GI style thumb safety, hammer, and grips safety, with a wide adjustable trigger. The rear sights are Elliason adjustable target sights and give a great picture. The top of the slide is raised, flattened, and serrated and the ejection port is lowered and flared. Up front, you’ll find a standard GI setup and a unique inward angled recoil plug, which I always thought looked great. The front strap and mainspring housing are vertically serrated and the grips are classic checkered walnut with gold Colt medallions. I think the old Gold Cups were some of the most beautiful 1911s ever built.

This 1911 uses no firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 37.4oz

Slide: Forged carbon steel

Frame: Forged carbon steel

Country of origin: United States

Approximate 2010 street price: $2000


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AMT Hardballer

Next we will discuss a 1911 that was questionable in terms of quality, but somewhat iconic, in my opinion. That would be the AMT Hardballer. I bought this gun simply to have an example of the first full stainless steel 1911 built. Modeled after the Colt Gold Cup, the Hardballer shares its appearance, but certainly not its quality. Like the Gold Cup National Match, this gun has a GI style hammer and grip safety, a wide adjustable trigger, a raised, flattened, and serrated slide top, and vertical serrations on the front strap and mainspring housing. The ejection port is lowered, but not flared, unlike the Gold Cup. The grips are fully checkered walnut and the sights are adjustable. Strangely, the slide serrations are vertical, while the Gold Cup’s are angled. I find that odd since the Hardballer is really the only Gold Cup clone ever produced. You would think the serrations would match. As far as quality issues are concerned, the Hardballer suffered from serious galling problems, due to the softness of the stainless steel used for guns in the early 1980’s. Shoddy slide to frame fitting probably made the galling even worse. In addition, Hardballers were known for their heavy triggers and its not uncommon for them to be 8 to 10lbs in weight. As far as my gun is concerned, I don’t shoot it. Its an early model that’s only been shot at the factory. I’d like to keep it pristine and, more to the point, I really have no desire to bring it to the range. It’s a nice looking 1911 and that’s about it. I paid $600, if I recall correctly.

This 1911 uses no firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 37.0oz

Slide: Cast stainless steel

Frame: Cast stainless steel

Country of origin: United States

Approximate 2010 street price: $500-$600


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Valtro 1998A1

Next up is a rather special 1911 in the Valtro 1998A1. These guns were introduced in 1998 and built on a limited basis until 2004 or so. The Valtro was the brainchild of master 1911 smith John Jardine. They were produced in Italy and inspected and “tweaked” by John during importation. Jardine also built some full house customs using a Valtro for a base. Its hard to classify the Valtro in stock form. The website, which has been frozen in time since 2003, calls them “near custom” production guns. I personally would rank them, from a quality standpoint, just a half notch below the popular semi custom guns built today, such as a Wilson CQB. Prices were between $1200-$1500 in 1998, which wasn’t cheap for the time. Today, due to the rarity, you’re going to pay about $5000 to get a pristine one. In fact, one sold in Gunbroker last year for over $4500, I believe. That’s if you can find one, I haven’t seen one for sale anywhere since then. Not many have them in the first place, and those that do, don’t sell. As far as the gun itself is concerned, its decked out with all the modern options you see today, including an ambi safety, a 30lpi checkered front strap and mainspring housing, a flattened and serrated slide top, a very high hand frame cut, and a full length guide rod. The finish is a high luster bluing and the gun features an attractive French border around the slide and a recessed slide stop. The Valtro also has a slight “melt job” on the sharp corners, which gives it a unique look. The grips are classic looking double diamond checkered walnut with Valtro medallions and the sights are adjustable target style. Slide markings are well done and my gun has the smaller text, done on the later guns compared to the model pictured on the website. I like the smaller markings better. Specifically, the left side simply states “1998 A1”, with the Valtro logo before it. The right side states “Custom 45ACP”. Overall, I feel this is a beautiful 1911 with a certain exotic flair. Its not one you really ever see. In fact, this is the first and only Valtro I’ve seen in person. I bought it still unfired from a fellow GT member for $4500 earlier this year. I have not had it to the range yet, but plan to some day. Value on these keeps increasing.

This 1911 uses no firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 39.6oz

Slide: Forged carbon steel

Frame: Forged carbon steel

Country of origin: Italy

Approximate 2010 street price: $5000

http://valtrousa.com/photogallery/ticevaltro1.html


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Unertl Ordnance DLX


Unertl Ordnance’s bread and butter was the high end firearm optics business and they supplied military branches with top notch rifle scopes for many years. They also built three top tier 1911 models, before folding and going out of business completely. These models were the UCCP, DLX, and MEU-SOC. The UCCP or Unertl Concealed Carry Pistol, was a commander model. The MEU-SOC or Marine Corps Expeditionary Unit, Special Operations Capable was a railed full size government model. The DLX or Deluxe is basically the MEU-SOC without the rail, and that’s the model I have. Unfortunately, I don’t know a whole lot about the Unertl line, other than they’re top quality 1911s in every way. This gun has all the bells and whistles, including 24lpi checkering on the front strap and mainspring housing, an ambi safety, a magwell, a lanyard loop, and a high frame cut. The bull barrel setup of this gun gives it the tightest front-end lockup of any 1911 I own, equaled only by my Infinity. The frame to slide fitting is also rock solid with no movement whatsoever. Grips are a hard black rubber, which I don’t care for aesthetically, but give a nice firm grip. The extractor is the external type, with a heavy-duty look to it. The combat style night sights are unique to Unertl and give a terrific sight picture and it comes with my favorite trigger type, the short solid aluminum. The frame is Caspian, but I heard they were forged. This 1911 is certainly one of the best shooters I own and I’ve taken it to the range dozens of times now. Its one of my favorites and it’s a real shame they aren’t available anymore. Its also very difficult to find them on the used market, but if you do find one, I highly recommend you give it serious consideration. For the most part, prices are $2000-$2500, depending on condition. I haven’t seen one for sale in quite a while now, to be honest.

This 1911 uses no firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 41.4oz

Slide: Forged carbon steel

Frame: Forged carbon steel

Country of origin: United States

Approximate 2010 street price: $2000-$2500


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Detonics ServiceMaster

The last 1911 I want to look at in this guide is another older model, in the stainless Detonics ServiceMaster. Detonics has changed ownership a couple of times and has been in and out of business. What they did mange to do throughout all that was build quality 1911s. This pistol was state of the art back in the day and built for carry when there really wasn’t a whole lot of choices in a commander sized 1911. I find this gun a great shooter and very reliable. The ejection port is cut lower than most on the Detonics. This 1911 utilizes a bull barrel setup that locks up well and possesses a tight frame to slide fit. The barrel itself is step-crowned for a unique look. The single sided safety is GI style and the magwell is nicely beveled. The top of the slide is flattened, but not serrated and the rear of the slide is scalloped. This was done to make the hammer easy to cock during the days when it was more common to carry with the hammer down on a loaded chamber. The steel mainspring housing is checkered, but the front strap is smooth. There is a high cut radius under the trigger guard and between it and the beavertail; my grip on the ServiceMaster is comfortable. The sights are simple GI style, though slightly larger for a decent sight picture. I love the vertical serrations and the handsome rosewood grips with the Detonics logo. The slide roll markings are extremely well done with “Detonics USA ServiceMaster” on the left side and nothing on the right. The short solid aluminum trigger (my favorite style) tops off what I consider to be a beautiful commander. A Detonics ServiceMaster in like-new condition, such as this one, will run about $1000.

This 1911 uses no firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 38.8oz

Slide: Forged stainless steel

Frame: Cast stainless steel

Country of origin: United States

Approximate 2010 street price: $1000


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Conclusion


First I'd like to thank everyone who took the time to read this guide, whether it be in full or in part. I'm hoping that all of you found it and will continue to find it useful for basic information about the 1911s you may be considering. I will continue to update this guide as I finish off my 1911 collection in the future, as I do plan to purchase a very select few additional models in 2011 and beyond.

I'll also add that, as basic as the information is, I'll be happy to add further detail about any particular model in question if asked. I had to limit the initial entries in order to keep the size of this guide in check. Therefore, if you need extra info or have a question either post it in this guide or send me a PM.

Having said that, there are limits to this report and those limits are based on my collection. I mentioned this in the introduction. As you may or may not have noticed, you didn't see any railed models listed here. I’m not a person that cares for or has use for a railed 1911. Due to personal preference, you also don't see calibers other than 45ACP or frames smaller than full size. For this reason among others, and as I also mentioned in the intro, this guide is meant to be interactive. I would really like and appreciate some entries from our many experienced members. Following my format is certainly not a requirement. In fact, someone else may have a better system for posting information of this type. The bottom line is that I don't want this to be Brian's 1911 Buyer's Guide; I want it to be Glocktalk's 1911 Buyer's Guide. Several opinions are certainly far superior to one.

Finally, here are some thoughts on the 1911 "food chain" as a whole. While everyone is capable of building a lemon, the saying "You get what you pay for" holds a great deal of weight in the 1911 world. The difference in craftsmanship, fit and finish, and durability, as you climb the scale is vast. However, the price of admission does not need to be high. If you want a good range 1911 for the price of a Glock, the entry level enhanced category is the place to start looking. If you want something classic and authentic looking, pick out a GI replica. If you want to one-up your buddy at the range, check out the high-end production guns. If you want a state of the art, top tier model, figure out which semi-custom is for you and order it to your liking. If you want one of the best money can buy, talk to a top smith like the individuals mentioned here and get on the waiting list.

The point is that there's something for everybody in the 1911 world and I encourage those without one to give it a try. You won’t know how you feel about the platform until you get some extensive trigger time. I'm plenty confident you'll be happy you did.

Below you’ll find a family picture of all my 1911s. There’s no need for a legend because they’re lined up in the exact order they appear in this guide, starting with the top left corner and working left to right, top to bottom. Enjoy.

Thanks for your time.

Brian


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Old 09-29-2010, 17:58   #28
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Official GT 1911 FAQ and Resource Thread

The purpose of this thread is to selectively harvest the vast and great information from the GlockTalk 1911 members so it is in one place. The hope is that this will serve as a primer for those new to the 1911 platform as well as a reference for the old salts. Each post is a new topic in and of itself, so searching this thread might even be a good idea. Due to the nature of forums and the fact that my intent is to not copy and paste, but place the actual posts of members in this thread, a few old threads may go away. If you see a post or think of a topic that you beleive is worthy of inclusion in this thread, send me a PM and I will review it.

In order to keep it clean and not become unweildy, this thread will remain locked.

ENJOY!
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Old 10-05-2010, 10:52   #29
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SIG C3 review

I had been looking for a "non-Kimber" 4" 1911 for about a year and tried several, finally settling on the SIG C3. I already have a Kimber Tactical Ultra, which, with thin grips, I really like, so thus no Kimber. I wanted match quality, but total reliability. Night sights did not matter but I wanted a light weight. Why a 4", because I wanted one.

Here is the SIG link: http://www.sigsauer.com/Products/Sho...&productid=165

Here we go.

I've seen it billed as a 6+1 and a 7+1 pistol, mine came with 2 magazines which each held 7 rounds. The overall fit and finish was pretty good. There are a few gaps on the rear at the slide rail interface, but I have to realize this is not a hand fit pistol. I got the Nitron frame finish and the coating was very high quality, we will have to see what the durability is into the future. Overall, the pistol looks excellent. The lines, while not classic, are distinctive and sleek. They have slightly narrowed the slide making this the thinnest overall 1911 I now own.

The trigger was better than I expected and I don't plan to do anything to it, and I am a trigger snob. It broke clean with very little creep or overtravel. Almost perfect for a carry piece.

The grip, for me was decent. IMHO, this should have come with thin grips from the factory. The grips are rosewood pebble texture and provided a good purchase. The MSH was checkered and looks just like my FS Kimber and DW. The front strap was, for me, checkered a little too sharply, especially for the edge meeting the middle finger. 10 magazines or so would not be an issue, but 500 rounds would probably make you bleed. The slide release was larger than need be IMHO and I might change that out but the safety was thin and about perfect. I'll likely go with a set of Ergo's for carry, or maybe VZ, thin in either case. While I would like to subdue the front strap checkering, I probably wont.

Take-down was simple and I could do it with no tools. The barrel busing was not overly tight and all of the internals did appear to be the touted match quaility tool steel parts. As compared to the Kimber Ultras and Pros, WAY easier to take-down, clean and reassemble. The slide release pops in and out of the detent very nicely (avoiding those frame scratches). Internal machining and fit was very good.

The sights are Novak 3 dot night sights. To me, the rear spread of the dots, and the notch itself, are too thin. I will likely change out the rear for something with a wider notch and no illumination. I'll also have to figure out if I need a lower rear due to the next sentence...

First magazine out of the box, 25 yards, shot into a 3" group, but about 5" above the POA. I was not about adjusting sights this time out, but that seems a tad high to me. This was repeated through with 6 types of HP ammo and 3 types of ball, 200 grain and 230 grain. Running some of my low power 200 grain ball at 700 fps, I had about 25% fail to go into battery after firing. When I used normal velocity 200 and 230 grain ball, it ran 100%. The same with 200 and 230 grain JHPs. Yep, it fed HS, Nosler, Speer and Remington JHPs with not a single malfunction. I fired right at 200 rounds total. One magazine for full power 230 JHPS with 0.2 second splits on a 25 yard target printed into 7", but still about 5" above POA. I used Wilson, Metalform, CMC and SIG facotry magazines.

All in all, I am very impressed. Fortunately, my three gripes are all easily fixed. However, I think with a little careful consideration, they would have seen the benefit of a wider rear sight notch and thinner grips. When you spend $1k, you want it right, and overall, they did.

2nd image is field stripped, D & A takes like 2 minutes! 3rd image is the top of the front strap where it cut into my middle finger. 5th image is the Sig in the middle, full size custom on the left and the Kimber Ultra Tactical on the right.
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Old 10-15-2010, 12:23   #30
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TGO-1 vs. Trophy Match vs. Loaded pics.

Disclaimer: I'm not a professional, just a guy with a camera and guns. I reserve the right to be wrong.

Well i had the day off today (actually worked all day yesterday until 4am today) and decided to finally take some pics of the 3 different level's of guns Springfield sells. i guess i could've borrowed knedrgr's mil-spec to add to this too, but i didn't, so

I used the TGO-1 form the Custom Shop, the Trophy Match and the Loaded for this comparison. They are visually similar guns (target & FO sights, magwells, and flat triggers) but are different levels of guns that Springfield produces. This thread is just to show the differences that one is getting for the money that they are paying. I frequently post the Springfield vs. Springfield article when someone wants to know the difference between the Trophy Match, Loaded and mil-spec. I'm a visual type of guy, which also shows that i grew up in Missouri (the "Show Me" state) and thought pictures can show the details better than words.

The TGO-1 is a Custom Shop gun which less than 200 have been produced. The last one i've seen for sale was made 6/25/2010 and was number 150. It's a really tight gun and is the tightest gun that i own.
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The Trophy Match is "high-end" production gun. what's this mean? It receive's more attention to fitting, but not as much as a semi-custom.
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The Loaded is a production gun. Most people buy guns in this category. The parts are mass produced and has less attention to fitting than the other 2 groups.
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Old 10-15-2010, 12:30   #31
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The outward appearance of the guns is pretty much the same at first glance.
The main difference is the TGO-1's finish and lack of FCS.

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from the shooter's perspective the look similar as well.
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the TM's slide is serrated on top
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Old 10-15-2010, 12:37   #32
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taking a closer look, you can see the difference in fit. you can see that the Loaded's extractor isn't flush with the back of the slide (and slightly clocked) and the slides to frame fit also vary. I should note that the Loaded was tighter when it was new, but after thousands of rounds it has loosened up a little. The Trophy Match was bought used (don't know the round count) and is slightly loose as well.

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TGO-1
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Trophy Match
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Loaded
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Old 10-15-2010, 12:42   #33
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The beavertail fitting is nice, and they are similar, but you can see that a little more care was taken with the TGO-1 with the blending at the top. These photo's where taken with the GS depressed. you can also see how the GS (where the web of your hand goes) is blended with the frame.

TGO-1
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Trophy Match
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Loaded
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I added a magwell to the Loaded, but the TGO-1 and Trophy Match had them as standard parts. You can see the difference in the blending and what a drop-in magwell would look like.

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Old 10-15-2010, 12:53   #34
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Pulling the slides off, you can see the different detail's taken between each one.
I have the most rounds through the Loaded, and the wear shows.

Loaded, Trophy Match, TGO-1
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Old 10-15-2010, 12:55   #35
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An interesting note is that the Loaded didn't have the last 3 digits scribed into the barrel. I'm not sure if this is true on all the Loaded's or if it was because it was a ramped barrel.

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There are other little details that were on the TGO-1 such as the digits on the slide stop, bushing and even the barrel link pin.

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The TGO-1 has a "hidden leaf cut" for the rear sight, while the other 2 didn't.

The SHOT ShowCase

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Old 10-15-2010, 13:01   #36
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Lastly is barrel fit. It should be no surprise that the TGO-1 locks up tight, while the TM & Loaded both have slight side to side movement when locked up.

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The SHOT ShowCase

I didn't take pics of the internals because the Loaded has been swapped and the Trophy Match has been worked on. I hope to make it to the range this weekend, but since the TM and Loaded aren't stock guns anymore it won't be a good indication of how they came from the factory.
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Old 10-15-2010, 13:20   #37
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oops... i forgot the Slide by Slide pics.

Trophy Match
Loaded

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The SHOT ShowCase



Trophy Match
TGO-1

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The SHOT ShowCase



Loaded
TGO-1

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The SHOT ShowCase


Hi-Res photo's can be found HERE
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Old 10-16-2010, 14:25   #38
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someone on TOS asked for pics of the "bow tie" area.

Loaded
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Trophy Match
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TGO-1
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