Current Top 1911 Picks

My current picks for the best production 1911’s you can buy.   I’m going to roll with some specific guns and give some more details.  But following the recent AR-15 article pattern, I’m going to stick with regular production 1911’s and not touch on Custom and Semi-Custom.  Otherwise this list would be all about Nighthawk, Ed Brown, Les Baer, and Wilson Combat.

1.  Springfield Armory:  I’m putting Springfield as a top choice because their guns are consistently well above par, and their customer service just might be The Best in the entire gun industry.  Their policy is that they want you to be happy with your gun.  So you can buy a Springfield without hesitation.   Any complaints I have heard about Springfield usually involved the person having some extreme form of Unrealistic Expectations.  “I had a problem with my GI Model so I think Springfield should give me a TRP!  With a 3 day turn around!”  That kind of thing.
Picking 3 guns out of their line up, the TRP, the MC Operator, and the Champion LW Operator.  (Champion being Springfield lingo for “Commander”)   I would really like to see Springfield do a “CCO” type pistol, and Loaded LW Commander, er… Champion.
As some do not know,  MARSOC was buying and using the Springfield MC Operators for years and years before Colt snagged the contract.  Considering Colt’s new CEO is a former Marine General… Hmmm… I’m sure that contract award was completely legit.

2.  SIG.  SIG really hit the ground running making just what could be best overall 1911’s you can buy.  Problem with them though, is that they departed from tradition with a sharp turn.  Non traditional external dimensions/profiles, with external extractors.   Then they came out with their “Tradition” series – which does look like a regular 1911, but still has that exterior extractor.    However, these guns are so good… I just love them.  Very much so.  Their C3 and RCS are amazing CCW guns.  And this gun here…. It hits all the right buttons.  Make this a Commander sized, SIG.  Please.   You can’t go wrong with a SIG 1911.

3.  PARA USA.  It’s not a secret that I’ve just never really cared for Para’s guns.  But ever since Para Ordinance became Para USA, they have been making huge strides.  Their LDA trigger system, I still don’t care for.  If you like it, that’s fine.  I just don’t.  However their regular 1911’s… They have evolved into guns that are just excellent.  Their new Black Ops 1911 is unquestionably a fine 1911 handguns by any measure.  But it’s their Elite series that I really dig.  Simple, no front slide serrations… and this one is almost perfect.   Just please, get rid of that fiber optic FSP.  I’ll take a regular tritium FSP, thank you.  I’ve talked with some of the guys from PARA USA, and they are taking their guns very seriously.  They want to be the best.  And you know what?  They keep on this road, they sure will be.  I’m liking where they are going.

4.  Remington’s 1911 R1.  This comes as a surprise to me… but Remington’s R1 family of 1911’s are just flat out excellent.  All of Remington’s problems do not exist in or effect their 1911’s.  And they are offering these well built and solid 1911’s at extremely reasonable prices.   They make one that I would be very tempted to add to my own collection.  Tell me that isn’t just gorgeous.  Remington is using a very good steel alloy, and are sporting very nice finishes.
Now if they could just put this attention to detail into the Marlin Lever Actions – I’d be a happy happy Ogre.

5.  STI.  Specifically, STI’s Lawman 4.0, and the Nitro 10.   I favor the Single Stacks, and I favor the guns that use the bushings… but that Nitro 10 is just too cool, so I can forgo the bushing requirement.

6.  Dan Wesson.  Because Dan Wesson.   Their Bobtail Commanders are probable the most FLAWLESS 1911’s I’ve ever seen that didn’t cost more than a good used car.   Their 10mm Razorback is just too damn good.   But the ones to really look hard at, are the Valor Black and the CCO.   Perfection.   Where is the Valor Black Commander though?  Oh, and hey, CZ USA – Make these in 10mm as well.  I don’t really dig the Titan 10, because I don’t hunt Vampires, professionally, so I don’t need all the race-gun hints.  I want a clean and simple 1911, in 10mm… that’s not stainless.

Here’s what I look for in a 1911:  Simplicity and understated elegance.  I don’t like bushingless bull barrels.  I don’t like full length guide rods.  I really don’t even particularly care for ambi-safeties.  And the one thing I really don’t like – but they are almost universal… The Novak style ramped rear sights.  But I can live with it.   I will also stay away from anything that even resembles a “Series 80″.  I prefer Commander length barrels.  The 4″ to 4.25″ barrel lengths.  They balance just right to me.  I do prefer if I can get it, the light weight frames, but will take solid steel happily.  I also do not like extended slide releases and safety levers.  The “Tear Drop” style safety lever is my favorite.    I do prefer a bobbed hammer or commander style hammer, followed up with a nice wide high ride beaver-tail.  Those work for me.

One to keep an eye on:  Rock Island Armory is getting better and better, not every year, but every day.  They are like the Kia Motors of 1911’s… they used to be cheap and laughable, but now they will make you turn your head, “What is that?  THAT’s a Kia?!?”  RIA is having that same effect.  While not one of my top choices now, they could be at some point in the future sooner than anyone could expect.

Top 5 Best AR-15 Manufactures.

Question came in:

“Mad Ogre, can you make a list of the best AR 15 rifles according to your expertise? I’ve read you articles and it seems to me you’ve done your homework! Would really like to know which AR 15 manufacturer rifle would catch your eye!”

That’s a good question, but also technically complicated.  Saying “AR-15″ is like saying “Pickup Truck”.   Asking for the best Pickup Truck would require me to respond with “What are you going to do with it?” It’s far easier if I know the specific applications you are going to use it for, because of all the options and configurations out there.   And with AR-15’s there are far more nuances that go with them.   So instead of specific models, I’m going to simplify this.   I’m going to list in order specific manufactures.  Companies that are making production gun sold through dealers… not custom guns.

My TOP 5, Starting at the top and working down:

1.  DANIEL DEFENSE
2.  NOVESKE
3.  LMT
4.  LARUE TACTICAL
5.  BRAVO COMPANY

Runners Up:
ROCK RIVER
SIG

These are the only production AR-15 Rifle Makers that I would personally spend my own money on.    Reason I picked these are due to the overall quality and consistency that I have seen.   These guys are consistently putting out the best products.    Each one of these Brands are worth exploring.  Which specific rifle – depends on your application or the configuration that you are looking for.   These are also companies that I have personally talked with and know there commitment to putting out top quality rifles.   There are a couple other companies out there that could have made this list as a Runner Up – but I just don’t like their finished products…  I’ll give you one example.  Black Rain.  They are making some good products.  BUT.  Their finishes are ghastly and they insist on using a muzzle device that you could seriously use to drill through layers of sedimentary rock and discover oil with.  They have to ship them with a rubber cap over it because the muzzle device will chew through the packaging during shipping.  They WILL tear the crap out of any case you put them in as well.   For what purpose do you need that for?  It’s just tacky.  If they would tone it down – I could take them more seriously.

Now, let’s talk configurations.  For a Jack of all Trades configuration, I like a carbine length barrel, with full rifle length  handguards, and I like a free floating barrel.  I don’t like quad-rails, but I do like the option of putting on an accessory where I want it.  My favorite new rifle on the market that meets this criteria:

The Daniel Defense DDM4V11.

So if I had to pick just one rifle, that would be it.

 

To Refinish or Not to Refinish, that is the Question.

On my page about Firearms Finishes, a question popped in from one of The Horde.

For those new here, The Horde are like minded Readers of MadOgre.com – and by extension as some have said, members of WeTheArmed.com.  I’ll leave that up to you to self-identify as you wish.   

Question:  “Enjoyed the article on the different firearm finishes. I do have a question to ask….
I have come across an old Colt 1911 made in 1913. The seller states it has been refinished with the NP3 finish. Even though it appears to be a professional job, I’m concern that it defaces the value of the gun. Does anyone know if this devaluated the firearm any? I appreciate your responses.”

That’s a great question and an interesting topic.   Here’s the Short Answer:  Yes. Unfortunately any time you refinish a gun, you basically ruin it. Investment wise. Pure collector value issue. However for a working gun, it’s just the opposite. It restores and protects, and in the case of a finish like NP3 – enhances it.  So it really comes down to what you want the gun for.

The long answer:  We also have to take into account the value and condition of the firearm, as well as it’s individual history.  Let me explain.  Let’s say you have a Winchester 94 that your Pops got you when you were a Wee Lad.  It’s your working gun, your truck gun, your ever year deer getting gun…   It’s worn and getting corroded and could use some help.  This gun might be a “Pre-64″ example…. So off the cuff one would say, “No, don’t refinish it!”  However you have a lot of personal history with this gun and you want your kid to enjoy it too… and his kid.   Well, just the old Rub Down With Oil treatment isn’t going to cut it and that gun would get retired quick…. So maybe this example would be a good candidate to get a good refinish done.  Black-T or a good semi-gloss black Cerakote would be good choice for this.  Or, have a good gunsmith do a refinish with a Hot Blueing after some polishing up… So you can keep using it as you have been.

Okay, now say that same gun was your great grandfathers, well cared for, and is in really good condition…  It’s vintage was a lot older.  Well, in that case, it’s value could be quite high and such a vintage gun should be left as it is, or if you want to use it… Here, the decision is yours.

Now let’s say your great grandfather rode with Butch Cassidy and this rifle was own by one of Butch’s boys… or rode with Sheriff John Pope and ended would of Butch’s boys with that rifle.  Well, that gives that gun a much higher value than Book Value.  Of course – such value requires documentation to substantiate the history.  But let’s say you have that.   That changes things…. Refinishing that gun?  HELL NO.  That’s American History and should be preserved.   There will be Collectors looking for that gun.

Now there is another collector type out there… Blood Guns.  Weapons used by murderers.  I’m not going to go into that stuff… but those collectors?  They don’t even want you to clean it, so no refinishing for those guns.

Most modern guns though, mass produced, common types that are still in production… Refinish it however you like.  Really the skirmish line comes down to if it’s in production or not.   If it’s no longer in production – take a moment to think about getting it refinished or not.

Some thoughts…

I’ve really come back to my true handgunning loves…. Hammer Fired Guns with Metal Frames.  1911’s specifically, followed by SIG’s, Beretta’s, CZ’s, and those funky 3rd Gen S&W slab-fisted automatics life the 5906 and 4506 and 1066.   There is just something about them.  Now, the 1911 famously being the stand out Single Action.  It takes the grown for being ruggedly handsome.  If it was an actor in a leading role, it’s character would have 5:00 Shadow and 6:00 AM.

The 1911 remains the pistol of choice for a great many Pistol Aficionados.   It’s just so very good at so many things.  I still distrust 1911’s with barrels shorter than 4″, but that’s a whole other conversation.

Revolvers also fall under the Hammer Fired, Metal Framed catagory.  Interestingly, my attention has been on guns patterned on the Single Action Army, but slightly more modern.  Ruger Blackhawks, and even Colt’s New Frontier.    And with these guns, I’m more interested in the ones with barrels shorter than 5″.  4″ is ideal, I do believe.

I’ve been tinkering a lot on my guns as of late.   Playing the Kitchen Table Gunsmith.  Re-learning a great many things that I had forgotten or have not bothered with in decades.   You can really screw things up doing this.  Especially when, like me, you know just enough to get yourself in a mess of trouble.  Luckily I’ve avoided such troubles and have really pushed the limits of my skills.  The results are simply that my guns are slick and seem to be functioning better than ever.  The one thing I have never forgotten.   Take. Your. Time.  Don’t rush anything you do when you take a gun apart.  Take your time and think everything through.  Every part, pin and spring.

This new Brad Pitt movie coming out has me on edge – I can’t wait to see it.  It’s called “Fury”.  It’s a WWII Tank movie.  The only other one I can think of is Kelly’s Heroes.  (Not just a weird kinda sandwich)  Evidently it’s staring a real and actual German Tiger tank… the last one.  That’s just too freaking awesome.  The Tiger was truly full on beastly.  It’s a good thing the Germans didn’t have them in the same numbers that we had our Shermans.  Hmmm… I wonder if other nations think the same thing about our M1 Abrams tanks?

I heard on the news that an American was just killed in Syria, while fighting FOR the group known as ISIS.  My response was “Good!”  Then the report mention that the Government’s response was to issue a Travel Advisory about American’s going to Syria.  Nothing about Americans fighting along side terrorist assholes… Which evidently is fine, just don’t fly into Syria to do it.

Robin Williams’ death.  The thing that gets me about Robin Williams suicide – was all the good work he did for sick kids and all the good work he did for the troops.  He was liberal, sure, but he was a humanitarian first and foremost.   I’m just disappointed he pulled his own plug when he could have been the next Bob Hope with the USO… he could have been doing so much more with those kids.  And then is struck me.  What would people say about us like that?  What potential do other people see in us that they never tell us?   Suicide is a symptom of a very low, very negative sense of Self Worth.  This is why so many of our Service men and women choose to kill themselves.   And not just Veterans… look at the problems with Teenagers.

So I want to help that.  This Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS… Yeah, that’s all fine and all.  I did it.  So if I did it, you know it’s jumped the shark.  So I have a new challenge.   If you know someone who you think might be feeling down… Boost them up.  Tell them the potential that you see in them and help them reach that.   Warm their hearts with Self Confidence and don’t throw ice water on their spirits.

 

Question Clearing House

Here’s a quick paraphrasing of some of the more common questions I’ve been getting lately, mainly through YouTube and Facebook.  I’ll answer them here as well.

Q:  What’s been your most accurate pistol?
A:  The most accurate pistol I ever owned?   That’s easy.  It was my CZ 97B.   The gun was not perfect, but it was very very good.  Honestly, I was a total dumbass for selling it.

Q:  What’s been your most reliable pistol?
A:  Honestly most of my guns have been very reliable.  Most reliable though would be the ones I still own, my Glock 23, Springfield 1911 GI, and Beretta 92FS.  I tend to filter out unreliable guns.   The most reliable gun…. well, while none of these guns have ever – EVER – given me a jam, the Glock has by far had the most rounds fired through it and unlike any other gun I own, I’ve fed that Glock a large diet of nasty steel cased imported ammo of types I’d just not consider running through any other pistol.  So I’ll have to give the nod to the Glock, it’s just a trooper.

Q:  What’s been your worst pistol?
A:  Easily the CZ 100.   A gun that should never have been made.  Ever.  It was so bad, I may one day pick up another one just because it was such a stand out gun in my mind.   Uniquely horrible trigger that remains the worst of the worst, wrapped up in a design that is equally horrible in its own right.

Q:  What’s your favorite gun?
A:  Overall, Remington 870 Police/Tactical.  Really just any 870 with a short barrel.  I would rather have that than any other gun.  Talking specifically handguns – favorite would be the 1911.

For long time MadOgre.com readers, yes, I’ve come back to the 1911 pistol.  Again.

 

Considering teaching 3 new Courses.

I’ve been thinking about three new firearms courses.   Let me bounce this off you guys and see if these would have some traction.

1.  The Lever Action Operators Course.   This course would be a focus class on the Lever Action Rifle platform, specifically Winchester 94’s, 92’s, and Marlin’s 1895’s, 336’s, and 1894 rifles.
The course would start out with the introductions, history and development… and then move to disassembly, cleaning, repairs and modifications, and then moving on to tactical applications within the weapon’s performance envelope.

2.  The 1911 Intensive.  So many Shooters have commented that they are “Not Familiar” with the 1911.  This course would fix that.  Taking someone who’s never fired a 1911 before, and turning them into someone who is both familiar and confident with the pistol.  This would start out with of course the history and development of the 1911 pistol from 1907 to present.  We’ll cover a detailed breakdown of the 1911, to full disassembly and reassembly.  Every single pin and part.  Students would bring their 1911’s and we’ll tear them apart, inspect each part, clean and lubricate each part, and reassemble.  We’ll talk about common modifications, things to avoid, things to look for, and how to make the 1911 fit you the best.  Then we’ll cover the application of the 1911 in a defensive role.   Classroom in the Morning, Shooting in the afternoon.

3.  The Grilling While Armed Tactical Grilling and Shooting.  We’ll combine two of my favorite things in one course.   We’ll start out with how to set up your grill, how to cook direct grilling and smoking on your Weber (or other) charcoal grill.  Once the coals are lit and the meat and heat are set, we’ll do a defensive pistol course.  During the breaks from shooting, we’ll cover Pro Level, Champion Grade cooking techniques so you get the most out of your Grill.  Then we shoot some more.  And then once the smoking and grilling is done – We FEAST.  So you come away from this course, full and satisfied with grilled and smoked foods, and with the knowledge to grill and smoke your own, and with some improvement to your defensive shooting.  Okay, really this is just a day of hanging out at the range with good people and good food and enjoying the Freedom Lifestyle.