Tag Archives: 1911

My Springfield Armory 1911 GI No More

10993492_10205039089750331_2520949170993450144_nThis is my Springfield Armory GI 1911.  I’ve had this gun for some years now, kept it and enjoyed it as stock, refusing to modify it or change it in any way.  Well, two things happened to while I was in Jacksonville, NC.  The GI style wood grips cracked on me, and before I really “Discovered” Fireclean, it suffered form a corrosion attack on the slide.   So I had to scrub the corrosion off it, and change the grips.
Well, once I had gone and done all that keeping it “stock” just isn’t the same anymore.

10993439_10205039089710330_5305848336307885131_nThe gun shoots remarkable well for an old warhorse.  I love the fact that even with the old nubbin sights, it’s still an accurate shooter.  I fired 100 rounds of standard Winchester White Box 230 grains, and 50 rounds of Hornady JHP’s without a single failure.  The gun got hot.  So hot that it was really difficult to rack the slide… but it kept shooting as long as the mag had ammo in it.  It showed no signs of slowing down either.  That was probably due to the Slipstream lubrication, and a good old GI style 1911 working together in harmony.

Here’s the one problem I had though.  Hammer Bite.  Not bad enough to be painful, but it was irritating and distracting.  So to solve that problem, I went ahead and ordered some parts from Brownells.  A new Commander style Hammer, sear to match that, and a Commander style drop in beavertail safety.  Wilson Combat parts of course.   They should be here in 4 to 5 days.  Can’t wait.   Once those parts are in, my GI will no longer be a GI.  This saddens me a bit.

The Ultimate 1911 for Carry

The Ultimate 1911 for EDC (Every Day Carry) has got to be the classic Light Weight Commander.

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Those simple wood grips, with the simple blacked out finish… No Ramp rear sight… This is an example of LW Commander Perfection. It doesn’t get any better than this.

To me, this is the just the ideal 1911, period.  It’s the most flexible, capable 1911 you can get.  When you step away from this pattern, you step into more specialized, more limited areas.    You can easily rock an LW Commander in an IDPA match, and win it.  You can easily take that same gun and wear it for week concealed.  You go to a 5″ Government if you like.  And that’s fine.  But packing it concealed every day gets to be tedious.  Especially if you are getting in and out of vehicles all week.  You can go shorter than 4″ if you like… makes packing it much easier, sure.  But you sacrifice reliability in a way that I just find to be unacceptable.   Maybe you don’t need a reliable sidearm.  Huh… Well, someone is buying Kimber Ultras.     No… to me, the LW Commander just has it all.   The question though is WHICH light weight Commander.

ruger_lightweight_commander_1911_3Ruger is all over the place with their new LW Commander.  No, it’s not that I’ve been a Ruger Fan Boy lately, it’s just that Ruger is really “Doing It Right” lately.   (Granted – their new “Custom” LCP should be an LC9S, but that’s another topic)  I really like what Ruger has been doing lately.  5 years ago – I may have had to hurt you should you have suggested that I’d be saying that.  But it’s true.  Ruger is making some fine products, and their 1911’s are getting better.  If anything, they are really worth taking a look at.

 

The Remington R1 has impressed me.

20141210_203851I recently had the change to really get into a Remington R1 pistol, shoot it (a lot) and examine the guts.
Shockingly well made.  The internal machining was clean and precise.  The parts fit together without any slop, or tight spots.  The finish as smooth and even and consistent… and attractive, if I might add.  Overall, I liked it a lot.  For the money, the R1’s seem to be a fantastic Bang for the Buck option.  You are getting a lot of 1911 Goodness for a very reasonable amount of money…. a couple hundred bucks over a Glock.  (This one was sporting optional Crimson Trace grips, which add about 350 bucks for the Master Series)
Accuracy was very good with most rounds fired.  Excellent with some.  The worst was with Aguila FMJ’s, but the R1 was redeemed with Federal and Hornady ammo.  Remington’s own UMC ammo was not tested.
I didn’t record FPS #’s as I did not have a Chrono.  I still need to buy another one.
No Malfs were encountered, and I do not anticipate many would happen, as this is a good 1911 built right.
I’m very much looking forward to the new 1911’s made in the new facility in Alabama where the Remington R1 are absorbing Para USA like a Big Green Borg Cube…  We’ll see if the R1’s are as good as they used to be.

Remington’s R1 Carry Commander.

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I have handled the R1 Carry Commander again… This time taking a good hard critical look at it.  Dang if I can’t find a fault in it.  The action is super smooth, not too tight, not too loose – it’s totally Goldilocks.  This is just about the most flawless Commander I’ve seen for production 1911’s.   The finish inside was excellent.  I’m impressed, Remington.  Very impressed.  This gun is a contender for the next 1911 I get.   It really is.  If you get a chance to look at one at your local gun seller – take a good look at it and tell me what you think.

Four interesting guns, as discussed on AAR.

Fast gun segment on Armed American Radio.   I picked 4 of the more interesting Concealed Carry Gun Options.
Ruger LC9S, a Striker fired version of the LC9 we are all familiar with.  Much better trigger pull – to the point it means this slim ccw gun becomes a very serious option.   Even for me.
Ruger has another really good CCW option, the LCRx.  This is like the now familiar LCR revolver, but this one has a standard style exposed hammer, which means you can thumb-cock the action for a more accurate shot. I like that.  At only 13.5 ounces, you might think they are snappy – but with that nice rubber grip, it’s a pussycat to shoot.
Springfield XDS 4.0   This is the same gun as the XDS we all know and love, but with a longer 4 inch barrel.  A little better velocity because of that longer barrel, but the big advantage is the longer sight radius which makes it easier to shoot more accurately with.
Browning 1911 .380.  This gun was just recently announced.  It’s the 1911 .22 that’s been out for awhile, but rechambered for .380 auto.  What they did was they took a 1911 and scaled it down to only 85% size.  So it looks and functions just like the classic JMB design, but small.  Taking a gun that’s just too cool, and making it a viable defensive options.  Especially if you have tiny hands. Or you just want something different.  Probably wont be available until March of 2015, but that’s just a guess.  I’ll be looking for this at SHOT SHOW right off the bat.

Armchair Quarterbacking: PARA USA

I’ve never really been all that fond of Para Ordinance for various reasons.  However Para Ordinance became PARA USA, moved from Canada to the US, and have been working hard to forge their spot in the American Gun Culture.  Some years ago at a Media Range Day at SHOT Show, I browsed the offerings at PARA’s booth and was impressed with what I saw.  The gun was a very basic 1911 for Wild Bunch competition.  Nothing fancy, just very “GI” style.  Simple.  And good.  It was very good.  I shot several other 1911’s from other makers, but the one that stuck in my mind, even the one I liked the best, was the Para.  During SHOT I went to the PARA booth and looked at the pistol again.  It wasn’t a fluke… I really did like the gun.  It was at that moment when I realized that PARA USA is a company to take seriously.

Now it’s about 4 years later and PARA USA has continued to improve their guns.   They’ve made huge strides to the point that PARA USA is now one of my TOP 1911 Makers.     They are making some 1911’s I want to buy.  Not their whole product line… but close.  They can do a few simple things to really hit it out of the Ballpark.   Let’s take a look at PARA USA’s line up.

Let’s start at the top of their own roster and work down.  The Executive Carry.    The gun looks good, with a nice finish, nice grips, and that awesome bobtail.  But it has a 3″ barrel.   This is basically a full length grip, bobtailed, and an ultra compact barrel.  If this was a revolver, this would be the equivalent of S&W Magnum Grips on a Snub-Nose.  It makes no sense to me.  The grip frame is the hard part to conceal, not the barrel.  Bobtailing it is a nice touch, but if you are going to have an ultra compact barrel, give it an ultra compact grip frame as well.  At least an Officer’s length grip frame.  Bobtail that.  This gun is just a bit off because of the short snout.   Because of that, I wouldn’t buy this one.  However, if it was sporting a Commander length slide and barrel – I would.  A nice clean Lightweight Commander on a Bobtail frame is missing from PARA’s line up and it should fit right here in the EXECUTIVE category.   That’s 1 missing gun.

The other missing gun from the EXECUTIVE Category is the CCO configuration.  A Commander Length barrel and slide on an Officer’s frame.  Basically just the opposite of the PARA Executive they have right now.  Colt’s CCO was a breakthrough for concealed carry 1911’s.  SIG followed that pattern and hit a home run with it in the C3 and RCS models.  Smaller frame for easier concealment, and a nice length barrel that doesn’t give up much on ballistics and sight radius.  It NAILS it.  PARA doesn’t have a CCO type 1911, and they should.

Here’s one more gun to add to the Executive roster.  The LDA Officer… But with a standard 1911 trigger mechanism.  Not everyone likes an LDA Trigger in their 1911, but the Officer platform is a good one, and should be reflected in the Executive, Elite and Expert lines. One thing that the LDA has that I’d like in the Executive line is that front strap checkering.  That Lightweight Commander Bobtail – I’d like some fine checkering on the front strap.

I’m not going to comment on the Competition guns, because I think PARA nailed those as offerings and every competitive shooter I know would change things anyway to their own liking and everyone has a difference of opinion so you’ll never make everyone happy there.   But it’s a solid line as it is.

Now, for the Tactical side of things.  The Black Ops line.   Sharp.  I could buy one of these.   Wait a second here… How come the Black Ops 1911 Single Stack doesn’t have the Checkering like the Double Stack?  If this is to be a full featured combat oriented line, let’s not skimp on it.    Also, the Recon, your Commander length tactical gun.  Where’s the Single Stack version of the Recon?

While we’re talking Tactical, not all Tactical ops are Black Ops.  I’d like to see Tactical versions in OD Green and FDE (Flat Dark Earth).  Same guns, just not blacked out.  I know you’ve had them before, I sold them.  FDE the slide and frame, and use the regular black parts and grips for a nice contrast.  Would look very sharp.

Now on to the Elite Series.  The PARA Elite is a wide range of 1911’s that we can probably say is PARA’s main line.  Or at least it should be. My only hang up with the Elite Series is that they are using Fiber Optic Front Sight Posts on all but the Elite Pro.    The Elite Pro is one of my very favorite guns from PARA’s line up.  It hits all the right buttons.  Now, where is the Elite Pro Commander?  There’s another gun that’s missing from PARA’s line.   Another one is an Elite Bobtail Commander.   Again with Bobtail Commanders?  I know.  But still, my point is valid.  Ask Dan Wesson.

The ELITE LS HUNTER.  This gun is one that I’ve been waiting for… a 10mm Long Slide – I must have this.  Thank you for making this one!   Now, if you could just add 10mm options to a couple other Elite or Tactical guns, thank you.  And to keep up with STI – mayhaps a double stack version as well?

Reverse Two Tone.  I want to see more Two Toned guns, specifically in the “Reverse” scheme.  Light on bottom, dark on top.  Make a lightweight bobtail commander in 10mm, in reverse two tone – and you’ll have my order by the end of Oct.   Seriously.   I’ll order it through Blackstone Shooting Sports in Charlotte.  I’m not kidding.  I will.

The Expert line.  I’m giving you some Golf Claps over here.  Bravo… You have it nailed here.   Simple lines, no frills, and “No Gills”.  None of those forward slide serrations that ruin the lines of a handsome Government model.   THIS is the 1911 that I want the OTHER companies to make!   And PARA USA made it.    This makes me quite happy that I am moving to the town that makes it!   Can I get a black slide on that Stainless frame?  In a Commander?

The Warthog is listed under the Expert category… and that’s fine.  But remember what I said about the CCO?  A CCO Warthog…. Call it the “A-10” model, as in “A-10 Warthog“, the Infantryman’s favorite jet plane.  It would be the Goldilocks for concealed carry double stacked 1911’s.  The regular Warthog is just a bit too short in the snout for me.   I know it’s been popular, but trust me… a 4″ version would be even more so.  I could have sold twice as many, because that is what the most common remark about it was.   Springfield found this out when they made 4” versions of the XDS, as did SIG with the C3 and RCS.  That’s the configuration that is IDEAL for concealed carry.

That’s about it for PARA USA.   They are doing a really great job and I’m happy to see it.  They’ve come a long way and are now a great 1911 company!   Well done, PARA USA!!!   *Standing Ovation Here*

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.

My favorite 1911 Configuration.

To me, saying “1911” is like saying “Pickup Truck”.  There are many Makes and Models out there, all different, all with different purposes. But they are all 1911’s so they are pretty good and should all pretty much run the same way.   But one configuration of 1911 that always makes me drool…
A Lightweight Commander.  Specifically a two tone LW Commander.  As far as pistols go – these are my Redheads.  My Kryponite.  My weakness.

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This one is very nice… Subdued colors.  A big visible dot on the front sight… Very nice indeed.  I’m not a huge fan of the ramped rear sight, but I can deal with that.  On this gun the higher end red wood grips are a little dressy on the flat finished gun.

colt_04860txt_commander_eliteThis one is nice too… Subdued colors again, but with a set of black grip panels.  I like that a bit better due to the fact that it’s more in keeping with the motif.  The first one is like having White Wall tires on a Mustang GT.   I guess that would be fine if that’s your thing… it’s just not my thing.   And if it is your thing… and you like that… Well, “America”.   Bully for you!

kobra4Here’s one that’s very good.  Micarta grips, brushed stainless and a moderate polish on the slide… Not Subdued, but more natural.  I really like that.  I also like the Bobtail… a lot.  But it’s not necessary…  Just really really nice.  Like Navigation or a Back Up Camera, or XM Radio.

Yost_left_rearOh man… Here we go.  This is the higher end.  We have a high polish on that blued slide and burled walnut grips.  This one is so nice that it’s almost too nice.  We call guns like this “BBQ Guns”, but it’s what you wear to a BBQ at your friends place… your nicest gun in a nice leather holster.  Not something I’d EDC, but wear to special occasions.  It would be like having a date with a Super Model… You are not going to take her out on the rounds of your usual haunts, but to some place special.  (Unless she asked to go to the regular haunts mind you)   So for me, that last one there, the more natural one, that’s the one I’d pick.

What do all these Commanders have in common?  Two Tone Finishes, with Dark on top of Light.  The current Vogue due to the advent of stainless slides on polymer frames is to have a light colored slide on a dark frame.  This I don’t care for.  It makes all manner of sense though, sure.  It’s PRACTICAL.  A stainless slide will show less wear than a blued slide.  And frames will typically show less wear than slides… So putting a stainless slide on that black frame makes Reason and Logic smile.  But it doesn’t make me necessarily smile, no, just the opposite is true.  And let me tell you why.

Growing up reading every gun magazine I could get my hands on as a kid, I stared with wide eyes and great wonder at the custom 1911’s made by true master level gunsmiths… and all of them were two tones with stainless frames and high polished blued slides.   That LOOK defined “Custom” for me then and it does so now.  So the stainless slides on black frames just look “off” to me.   So my ultimate has to have a black slide on light frame.   That just visually tastes right to me.