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LAV 1911 Operator Course January 7-8

Discussion in '1911 Forums' started by Bodyarmorguy, Jan 10, 2012.

  1. Full Review added to thread, post #15

    Myself and some fellow shooting buddies attending Larry Vickers' 1911 Operator Course in Gainesville this past weekend. I will try to post up some pics and a full AAR as soon as I have a chance.

    A brief synopsis:

    For serious defensive work stick with Wilson, Springfield Custom Shop, Nighthawk, Baer and Brown in that order. Some stock guns from Colt and Springfield Armory are good to go. And in ALL of the above, stick to 5" guns with standard bushing and guide rod assemblies. 4.25", 4", 3.5" and 3" guns should only be considered recreational shooters.

    Custom builders of choice are Jason Burton, John Harrison and Jim Garthwaite.

    Stay away from fiber optic sights and full length guide rods. Whatever mag came from the factory with you gun, ditch them. Wilson ETM's are his number one choice, Wilson 7 round 47D's are preferred to the 8 round variant, he has seen others have good luck with Chip McCormick and Tripp.

    On day two we detail stripped all of the guns in the class and reassembled. As I had previously attended both Springfield Armory 1911 Armorer and Colt Factory 1911 Armorer class, LAV asked myself and another student with similar experience to help those who had little or no experience with detail stripping and reassembly. I did learn that I never want to touch a Taurus. The fit on the two that were in the class was horrible, parts had to be beaten out of and beaten back into the guns. The new Remington's did not impress me either. LAV is not a Kimber fan, though admittedly I have had two in the past which I had good results with.

    There were a few malfunctions during the class, almost all were failure to go into battery and mostly associated with guns that had run dry of lube. They will run dirty, but not dry.

    Two catastrophic failures, one a result of a student using his own reloads, double charge that blew up (Taurus gun). Say what you will about rubber grips, the student had Pearce grips which have metal liners like Pachmayr's do, the grips bowed but popped back into place with no injury to his hand. I have seen similar events with wood grips with dis-similar results. The second was a broken barrel link on a Wilson pistol. I examined the gun and found that the owner had put in a different recoil spring plug which appeared to be longer than spec and may have attributed to the breakage.

    Again, I am working on a full AAR.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2012
  2. 20South


    Nov 18, 2002
    East of CBUS
    What was his issue with the FO Front? Also, interesting take on the FLGR. I don't care for them either, but have not had problems nor heard of consistent failures with them.

    Thanks for posting this!
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2012

  3. BIGpig


    Aug 20, 2006
    Thanks for the quick report on the Vickers class. Looking forward to the full AAR and seeing some pics. I am hoping to take this course later this year.


    Dec 19, 2007
    Thanks for the first hand account. Sounds like the Taurus committed suicide:rofl:
  5. The FO front, no matter the manufacturer, is just too fragile for "work", not worth risking life to. The FLGR really does little if anything in terms of improving accuracy and makes field stripping/disassembly for in-field repairs more difficult. Again, okay for a game gun, but not a work gun. The same can be said for the use of allen head, star and other unique pattern grip screws and mag catch screws. Use them on a game gun but not a work gun.


    Dec 19, 2007
    FOFS I get, but I don't plan on taking the grips off while shooting:rofl:
  7. CD0311


    Mar 10, 2011
    Looking forward to AAR

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  8. fnfalman

    fnfalman Chicks Dig It

    Oct 23, 2000
    California & New Mexico, US
    Agreed. If you have to take off your grips while "working" (whatever that means), you better have another gun or run like hell.
  9. Zombie Steve

    Zombie Steve Decap Pin Killa

    May 31, 2007
    Old Colorado City
    Sounds like a lot of in-depth hardware discussion. Didja do any operating?
  10. seanmac45

    seanmac45 CLM

    Apr 13, 2000
    Brooklyn, NY
    Thanks for posting this. I look forward to the full write-up.
  11. Rinspeed

    Rinspeed JAFO

    Feb 28, 2001
    Sounds like a good time, look forward to hearing more.
  12. FLIPPER 348

    FLIPPER 348 Happy Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    Bend Oregon
    And how was the BBQ??
  13. PlasticGuy


    Jul 10, 2000
    The good news is that there is one less Taurus 1911 in the world. Ha!
  14. Thanks for posting! Looking forward to a full AAR and pic. :thumbsup:

    Interesting opinions on the hardware...
  15. Okay, finally got some time to sit down and transcribe some notes. No doubt, there are some details that I left out, but off of the top of my head here is what I have:

    Day One

    Day one began with the usual administrative paperwork, followed by LAV addressing the class, introducing himself and explaining what we could all expect from the class. He conducted a quick survey of the makes and models of guns in class. Of the 22 in attendance there were a significant number of guns from Wilson Combat, one Series 1 Kimber, 2 Taurus’, a Springfield Professional, a couple of TRP’s, Colt’s that were custom builds from Colt Custom Shop, Wayne Novak and Heirloom Precision (my pistol). Most were 5-inch guns with a couple of Commanders and a 4-inch model from Wilson. LAV expressed concerns about the Kimber and Taurus guns as well as anything under the standard Government length of 5 inches.

    Equipment included a couple of Police Officers using there duty rig, some Raven Concealment set ups, 1 Fobus (yuck), and a variety of leather rigs from Sam Andrews, Wilson Combat, 5 Shot Leather, Sparks and others. I used a 5 Shot Leather IBS model, myself and another student chose to shoot the entire class drawing from concealment.

    Off to The Range

    LAV conducted what he calls the “Real World Safety Briefing. “ Emphasis was placed keeping the finger off of the trigger until the sights were on target. Larry stressed that this was the sole rule that would prevent a tragedy, even if all other rules were violated. He discussed that the emphasis on this rule was largely due to the emergence of pistols lacking manual safety levers and double action triggers.

    We started off with dry fire drills and Larry stressed the importance of proper trigger control and accuracy over speed. “Accurate shots on target is what will end a gunfight in your favor.” These drills were conducted by pairing students up, with one student drawing his unloaded pistol on target while his partner placed an empty shell casing on the front sight. The goal was to press the trigger without the casing falling off the front sight. This continued until everyone was consistently pressing the trigger without the empty case falling.

    The second trigger control drill involved the same pair taking turns setting their partners gun up with either a live round or empty chamber. The shooter was to cover his target, attain a proper sight picture and press the trigger. If the shooter fired on an empty chamber and the front sight moved or if the shooter was detected performing the “El Snatcho” the pistol was cleared empty and the shooter had to conduct 5 perfect trigger presses. Again, this continued until shooters were keeping all rounds in the black area of the bulls-eye and not flinching on the empty chambers.

    Next we moved on to what was called the Ball & Dummy Command Fire Drill. It was essentially a repeat of the previous drill except this time the shooter started with sights on target with the slack taken up on the trigger. LAV would give the standard “Shooter Ready, Stand-by” then initiate the beep on the PACT timer. The duration of the beep was approximately 1 second. The goal was to complete the trigger press, without a flinch while the beep sounded.

    Another drill was performed with the goal of being the learning of the proper trigger reset. LAV discussed world champion IPSC shooters and how they actually slap the trigger with the finger coming all the way off the trigger between shots and how they can get away with it as some including Robb Leatham are running triggers down at the 1.5 pound mark. Real world guns do not permit such light triggers. LAV opined that so many instructors are teaching trigger reset with a slow return to the fire position, listening and feeling for the audible and tactile “click” and how this was not conducive to quick follow up shots. Students pair up again with empty guns and on the fire command would press the trigger through. The student’s partner would reach up and cycle the slide, recocking the hammer. The goal was for the student to learn to reset the trigger during the recoil phase of the shot.

    Intermittently through out the morning we were doing different strings of 1 shot, 2 shot, 3 shot drills at varying ranges out to about 10-12 yards.

    After lunch we return to the range where the guns were lubed to make sure that they would keep running through the rest of the afternoon. LAV covered the important lube points…the rails, a drop on the disconnect, slide forward a drop of oil was dropped into the hole between the face of the trigger and the slide, then a bead on the barrel hood at the forward portion of the ejection port. LAV noted that this is where the most friction is created during firing.

    We moved on to a series of in battery and out of battery reloading drills, covering all the usual points. LAV is a proponent of using the support side thumb to release the slide while getting back into your firing grip, as opposed to “slingshot” or “power stroking” the slide. On this subject he brought up the use of Shok-Buffs in the gun and they make the slingshot/power stroke technique difficult as they retard the additional rearward motion of the slide. LAV said that he does use them in his gun, but cautioned that they do require frequent inspection and must be replaced at no more than every 1000 rounds. He also cautioned against using them in guns shorter than 5 inches due to the already limited slide travel with these guns.

    For the latter half of the afternoon the class was split up into three teams, designated at the “Meth-head Blasters”, “Team VTAC” and finally “Delta Farts.” There was some spirited competition with a series of team drills that combined all of the skills learned through the course of the day, trigger control, trigger reset during recoil, slide lock reloads, etc. all under the clock. Scores were based on the overall time that it took teams to complete the drills with time added for any shots outside of the black on the bulls-eye.

    By the end of the first day I had observed the shooter to the immediate right of me experience a broken slide stop ledge on his extended slide stop and the shooter to my immediate left had a broken barrel link. The shooter with the broken slide stop was able to continue with the equipment he had, the shooter with the broken barrel link fortunately had brought a spare pistol. I had also observed at least 3 failures to go into battery at different point in the firing line.

    Day two began with a complete detail stripping of the guns. I had previously attended both Springfield Armory and Colt factory 1911 Armorer’s classes and LAV asked that I and another student with similar experience detail stripping the guns assist with those new to this. LAV very patiently took the students step by step through the complete disassembly of the guns, including some very good drawings on the white board to demonstrate the position of fire controls in the guns and how they work in relationship to one another. LAV demonstrated the proper method for testing and adjusting tension on the extractor and polished up a few minor parts on some student guns.

    I did learn during this portion that I never want to touch another Taurus. There were two in this class and the fit of the internals and some externals was horrible. Some parts had to be all but beaten out and back into the guns. Similar results were seen with one of the new Remington R1’s that a student brought. A 1980’s vintage bone stock Springfield was found to have a loose plunger tube that cause some problems. There were a couple of Kimbers as well that seemed to come apart and back together with ease. LAV is not a Kimber fan, however, I have previously owned both a TLE II and Stainless II and had good luck with both. By far the Colts, Springfield, Wilson and similar guns without additional firing pin safety mechanisms were the easiest to take apart and reassemble.

    After lunch it was back to the range for additional drills to verify that the guns were functioning properly after disassembly and reassembly. A few additional failures to go into battery were observed and a student who had brought his own reloads to class suffered a “KABOOM.” It was difficult to see what all might have happened with the gun (it was one of the aforementioned Taurus’) but it was deemed that the gun would not continue for the rest of the class. The KABOOM blew the magazine out of the bottom of the gun. The shooter had a couple of very small lacerations to his face but was otherwise fine. Thank God for good eye pro. The pistol was wearing Pearce rubber grips, now you can say what you like about them but those rubber grips with steel liners were a blessing in this case. They bulged out but popped back into place during inspection. I have seen a similar incident with wood grips with very dissimilar results, including wood fragments in the shooters hand. I offered to let the shooter continue with a spare pistol of mine, provided that he also uses my ammo. He declined, opting to use a spare Taurus of his own and his own reloads. (???)

    I put the total round count for the day and a half on the range to be about 300. LAV is not known for high round count classes. We discussed some other instructors that are known for having student put upward of 1500+ rounds downrange over two days. LAV opined that these are the instructors with very little knowledge to impart and kill time by having you shoot ammo without learning or perfecting any particular skill. Think “Entertrainment.”

    LAV also refers to this class as his “Glock Appreciation Class.” While he is still a big fan of the 1911 for individual use he says that he would never recommend it for military service or general police issue. “It is definitely and enthusiast’s pistol, like a Harley or a muscle car it requires attention from it’s owner.”

    This is my second class with the LAV, having attended his 3-day Carbine/Pistol Class at USTC in 2010. I highly recommend attending any of his courses given the opportunity.
    Below: The LAV
    Below: Day Two, discussing lubrication
    Below: A fellow shooting buddy
    Below: Me, on target
    Below: Me again (my new wallpaper at work)
    Below: Demonstrating Slide Lock Reloads
  16. CD0311


    Mar 10, 2011
    Great AAR! One of these days I'd like to take one of his classes.

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    Dec 19, 2007
    Good job BAG. No really, you did a good job with the report Ron. It's on my list to attend. Super cool you used your heirloom colt.

    In regards to support hand working slide stop, were there any LH shooters? LAV thoughts in that regard?

    Thanks again. I always soak up the thoughts of one LAV
  18. SpringerTGO


    Jul 30, 2011
    Looks like my TGO1 would be a total fail there. Between the fiber sight, FLGR, hex head grip screws, and shok buffs, I might as well toss it in the trash.
    Then I'd have to use my Nighthawk, but since the barrel is too short, I might have to bin it too.

    Luckily I have a Glock to fall back on.
  19. Tiro Fijo

    Tiro Fijo

    May 31, 2011

    That's what I like about him as first he is a pragmatist and a very objective one as well.
  20. Thanks Rocketman and Yes, one lefty. He suggested using the trigger finger to manipulate both the slide stop/release and the mag release. He further emphasized how that is advantageous in that it further assures that the trigger finger is clear of the trigger while manipulating the gun.

    He really really emphasized the trigger finger, stating that even Delta guys had made guns go bang when they should have and were unceremoniously escorted away from the unit for a time period.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2012