Thursday, February 14, 2008

What To Do with Your "Free" Government Bucks

I've been over at Julia Auctions paging through the Bruce E. Stern collection, including the beautiful Luger carbine above, all up for auction.


If I'd only had the money to buy that Microsoft stock back in the day! Spend a few minutes there, then ask yourself which is more important, a new kidney for uninsured Aunt Jane or a 1918 vintage German Maxim MG08. In your heart, you know the right answer...

I'm still pondering a vintage-style 1911 for the SASS Wild Bunch match the weekend before End of Trail in June. If nothing in that sentence makes a wit of sense, here's the Cliff Notes version. The Single Action Shooting Society (SASS), who sanction cowboy action shooting matches, has decided to add a Wild Bunch match to their annual world championships, End of Trail.

A Wild Bunch match is a cowboy shooting matched based on Sam Peckinpah's utterly brilliant noire western The Wild Bunch. If you haven't seen it, go directly to Amazon and buy the DVD. The movie, starring William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Warren Oates, Ben Johnson and a classic supporting cast, is set in 1913 in South Texas,during the transitional period between the Old West and a modern, harsher world.

Guns used by the Wild Bunch reflect that transitional post-Spanish American War and "adventurism" on the Mexican border time frame — lever action rifles, bolt action rifles like German Mausers and 1903 Springfields, Winchester 1897 pump shotguns in the "Trench Gun" configuration and not only Single Action Army revolvers, but the then new 1911 semiauto as well. John Taffin did a pretty cool article on the tiem period here.

SASS standardized the guns you can use for an official Wild Bunch match — lever action rifles in .40 or larger caliber (38-40, 44-40, .44 Special, .45 Colt); a 12-guage shotgun, including '97s in Trench Gun drag and a 1911 .45. I've got an IAC Trench Gun '97 replica and a couple of lever guns in .44 Magnum/.44 Special, a Marlin 1894 Cowboy I've used in competition and a Legacy/Puma 1892 Winchester clone carbine.

As I've mentioned before, the SASS rules on 1911s are pretty broad, allowing adjustable sights and a lot of the standard trick options. However, I'm really jonesing for a vintage 1911 to use in the match...seems like a good choice for the spirit of the game. Plus, you gotta accept a certain level of obsession in your life, right?

In my 10 minutes alone at the SHOT Show Tuesday, I whipped around and tried to look at some of the vintage 1911s. Here are my choices:

COLT WW1 Replica — They had one at the booth, and it was nice nice nice. It also has that Rampant Colt on the slide, which I know the William Holden character "Pike" would certainly approve. Around a grand, MSRP.

Springfield Armory "G.I."— A modern copy of essentially a 1911A1 from WW2. Roughly $500 MSRP.

Auto-Ordnance 1911PKZ — Again, a pretty good copy of the WW2 1911A1, including plastic grips. This looks the most like my father's Remington Rand 1911A1. $627 MSRP.

Rock Island Armory Standard — Not really a copy, but not far from the original 1911A1, either. I've got one of their Tactical versions, and it's a better 1911 than the sub-$400 price would suggest. The low, low price of $329 MSRP.

U.S. Fire-Arms Automatic 1911 Military Model (pictured on the pix for the high rez version)— So my friend Doug Donelly, who owns USFA, opens up the glass case — much like the one the jewelers keep the Rolexes in — and pulls out his 1911 Military is, indeed, a letter-perfect replica of a WW1 1911. It is also $1895 MSRP.

There are a couple of other options...I could overhaul my father's Remington Rand — he was a chronic shade-tree gunsmith who, sadly, discovered the Dremel Tool — which has some appeal. The gun's in excellent shape...I managed to talk him out of cutting on it too much back when I was in high school. I scrounged some original plastic grips for the gun and could probably tak Bill Laughridge at C&S into doing a gentle internal rebuild. Yes, I know it has collectors' value, but I am not a collector. I tend to shoot 'em.

Wilson Combat offered to build me a WW1 replica using their upcoming new 100% forged gun...God alone know what that would cost me, although it would be one-of-a-kind heirloom and I could do stories on it in the gun rags as well as my electronic stuff. Of course, for that matter I could go back to the Julia Auctions and bid on that near-mint 1915 Navy Contract 1911, then go shoot that like I had good sense!

What's the consensus of the blog?


Anonymous said...

Right before I became a physical wreck, I was getting my crap together for just this type of CASS match. I have three different versions of the 1911 and one more in the wings for this spring, now that things have stabilized for the nonce. I will return to competing with some major concessions for my reduced lung functioning.

My opinion is for you to take several 3X5 cards, a magic marker, and write the names of each of those wonderfull guns on them. Thumb tack the cards on a wooden lazy suzan, start it spinning, toss a raw meatball into the air, and watch where it lands.

Buy the one with the meat stain!

Then enjoy.

You can tell I am having a boring Thursday afternoon, can't you?


Anonymous said...

I would suggest going with the colt.
1. It is a Colt.
2. I have heard that it is made with at least some of the original tooling.
3. It has an authentic Carbonia blue finish.
4. It is a lot cheaper than the USFA
5. It has the pony.
6. I want it. Since I live in CA I am going to have a hard time getting one. By the time I move (3+ yrs) they will be discontinued :(

I hope this helps, at least somewhat.

Anonymous said...

Soot the RIA. (and use the Puma) show us it doesn't cost and arm and a leg to be competative.

You'll get more people into the sport that way.

Overload in Colorado said...

How about a Argentine Pistola Modelo 1927? I know it's not new, but they are available inexpensively.

Michael Bane said...

Haven't seen any of the Sistema 1927 pistols around in anyone carrying them anymore?


Michael Bane said...

Just had a long talk with Bill Laughridge at Cylinder & Slide, and he's got me thinking Colt Colt Colt...

"It's the pony, dude!" he says profoundly. "If you're gonna be retro, be retro. Retro retro!"

Puzzlement puzzlement...


PS: I just discovered that I can get the great Kelli Maroney to record an intro for the podcast...she is a Goddess...famos for her classic line in one of my favorie films, NIGHT OF THE COMET, "Daddy woulda gotten us an Uzi!" Cool...

Aaron Geisler said...

Vintage ones are great. The auction has a Remington UMC. I have one of those that has been reblued somtime in the past and lost it's collector's value.

Anonymous said...

I have the Colt 1911 WW1 and am very happy with it, especially in WB matches.

I also paid $825 out the door, so I doubly ecstatic. They are available here in South Florida for well under a grand.

Get one, you can't go wrong.

Dirtwater Doc

Anonymous said...

Altho it has been a while since I watched the Wild Bunch, didn't the Crazy Lee character use a Winchester Model 12 while robbing the railray office? ("How would you like to kiss my sister's black cat's ass?" That character.)

Buying a Colt just to get the pony doesn't make much since to me. Altho I haven't seen a US Firearms auto the SA's I have viewed are superior to any 3rd gen Colt I have ever examined.

Anonymous said...

Get a flat mainspring housing with lanyard loop on the bottom - a 1911 Cavalry model! You can find them - oh, lots of places.

Not Available said...

Call in some chips with the NRA and have them loan you one from the museum.

Anonymous said...

Springfield GI is, as you say, essentially a 1911A1. That's not from WWI, though, amigo - the A1 configuration happened in '23.

(Get the USFA - it looks just like the refinished Remington-Rand 1911 from 1917 that I had.)

cheers, erich martell

Anonymous said...

I don't know a great deal about 1911's, don't own one yet. The suggestions about retro are on the money I think, I never liked the SASS weenies who used light loaded .32's cuz "it's all about winning the match" instead of the spirit of SASS. So go with whatever is closest to the real thing for 1913.

What I do know is that The Wild Bunch is one of the top 5 greatest Westerns ever made. The last scene when Robert Ryan is walking among the dead and dying, and see Pike with his hand on the machine gun, a spent Colt .45 on the table, and his 6-gun still holstered - damn that was great.

The Wild Bunch was the first DVD I ever bought - a year before I had a DVD player! And although I had always liked Holden before that movie, I fell in love with him because of that movie. A good, filios, manly healthy love, but love nonetheless.

Great movie, great acting, great guns, very real.

"Hell, it ain't about giving your word, it's who you give it to!" - Dutch

"Let's go." - Pike

Anonymous said...

I own a RIA (1st 1911) and I bought it after I shot a lot of others ( a friend of mine works in a gun store, and owns 4 1911's. He turned me onto the RIA shoots good and good price. Have a drink for me with the money you saved. Have fun

Carl H said...

Yep, Crazy Lee has a Model 12, I lost a bet on that one. I really thought they had nothing but model 97s.
As another Tactical RIA owner I vote for the RIA mil-spec as well. You can shoot the dickens out of it as is or slick it up and write articles about the process. Like the man said, some of us want to know about guns we can afford almost as much as the custom Wilson's we'd buy if we won the lottery. Guys like me spend our lottery ticket money on Pacific Canvas and Leather 'Tanker' holsters for our RIA's. And figure we're money ahead.