The old man closed his eyes and tilted his head back, remembering. “Back when I was a young man we used to shoot guns made out of metal.”
The 1911 platform remains a top selling gun design to this day. The entire gun industry has a 1911 sub-culture. Complete with it’s own language and economy and border security. I mean, if you want to join the 1911 Culture, you got to know your way around. You got to know who the big names are, know those families, know where to go for certain things. Most of the big families can build you a fine 1911, but if you just want certain things… Magazines… Wilson Combat. High Cap bodies… STI. And everyone has rabid family loyalties that remind me of Middle Age Europe. “We fight for House NIGHTHAWK!!!!” *clattering of armor and swords amid the shouts*
The one thing that I shake my head at is the continued push by these great houses to sell these Sub-Compact (in the 1911 world we call them ‘Ultra’) 1911 guns with 3″ barrels. It’s extremely rare that any of these guns fire reliably. If you have one, good for you. But I’ve never seen one that could finish an IDPA Match or a Shooting Class. And most Trainers that I’ve talked to about it haven’t either. I think Rob Pincus was The First Heretic to speak out against these, much to the shock and horror of everyone who heard him. But he was right. He’s the Martin Luther of Defensive Pistols. These pistols just don’t work as a whole. And it’s the very rare Ultra that does… so rare in fact… that the owners must spend much time petting their Unicorns and playing shuffle board with Big Feet… because I don’t think they are spending as much time on the range with those Ultra’s as they say they do. If sitting on your couch playing Xbox is “Range Time”, then we’re done conversating. Ultra’s just suck. The only one’s I found to shoot reliably are the original Detonics Combat Masters, and even then, that was a less common encounter. And by Original I mean from within the first 3 factories to wear a variation of the Detonics name.
It has occurred to me thought that this rise of the Ultra is not a push by the gun companies… but by the demand of the Consumer. The Peoples Republic of Shooters are shaking the gates of the Great Houses demanding wine, cake, and cheeses, and more varieties of Ultra Compact 1911’s. They don’t want the full sized 5″ 1911 for concealed carry anymore. They want something smaller and lighter and less effective… because they have forgotten, or in fact never learned, why it is we carry a gun in the first place. I don’t understand many things in life. Such as why some people don’t like Bacon. Why pop culture calls that girl, Justin something, an artist. Or why someone preparing for a fight will prepare around ineffective or unreliable weapons. (ineffective such as .32 and smaller calibers. .380 Auto is the minimum, but it’s better than harsh language)
Then it occurred to me that they are not making ready for a fight. Not just any fight, mind you. But a fight for their lives and the lives of their loved ones. Packing a “cool gun” is just for that’s own sake alone and not for the sake of lives. It’s for the sake of Cool. A 1400 dollar custom Ultra… I’m not going to say any names…
Might be expensive… and might be as beautiful as Hellen of Troy… But it was made to be only that. Beautiful and Expensive. This reminds me of a song from “A Funny Think Happened On The Way To The Forum” which considering the name of the show, I find humorously ironic. “You’re Lovely, all you are is Lovely.” This is a gun that is not made for saving your life. It’s made to be Lovely, and nothing more. Like a trophy Wife or Girlfriend or Personal Assistant… it’s something to show off and make you look good. And that’s fine if you are showing off cars or girls… but in my mind, showing off something like a Kimber Ultra Duper Cool Carry, you spent a ton of cash for shows that me that you have a lot of money to waste on something superficial and useless.
If you want a 1911, DON’T get one with less than a 4″ barrel. Just don’t. You can have and enjoy a 1911… that’s fine. But going below a 4″ barrel you are taking risks and forgetting the actual purpose of having a gun on you in the first place. Of the current production 1911 builders, I’m down to 2 choices. SIG and SPRINGFIELD ARMORY. Going above that into the Semi Custom or Custom category, I’ll take an STI or NIGHTHAWK. Those are my choices. You can choose what you want. I’ve forged my opinions at the foundry of Range Time. On Live Fire Ranges where I have taken classes and have taught classes and have seen every example of 1911’s common in North America. I’ve seen all of them fail at some point. But some are more failure prone than others. These names I’ve mentioned… these Great Houses of 1911’ness… have failed the least that I’ve seen.
I was most pleased that in my last Defensive Pistol class that I taught, in West Virginia it was… there was not a single 1911 of any stripe at the range. SIG’s, Glocks, M&P’s. And you know what the problem child gun of the day was? SIG. A 229. Interesting that. Could it be that the SIG is the latest Metal Gun to show it’s age? No, not hardly. But I’m just putting it out there that the 1911 is getting long in the tooth and coming around full circle.
What do I mean by that?
Back in the day, it was just known that 1911’s, brand new out of the box, wouldn’t run right. Kimber actually, with the Kimber Custom model broke that mold… as they were putting out 1911’s that worked quite well as far as 1911’s go, right out of the box. This causes a stir because you could buy a new 1911 from Kimber, and actually go shoot it instead of sending it straight to a gunsmith for them to rebuild so it will work. (The Age of COLT was at an end at that time)
And now it’s seemingly perfectly acceptable to sell 1911’s again that don’t function well out of the box. I’m not talking about a mere “break in” period. I’m talking about guns that just don’t want to be reliable. If these 1911’s were teenagers, they would have nose rings and ear gauges.