Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Flock of Red Herrings

Or something of the sort...I note I'm already being accused of whoring for a gun that hasn't yet been released and about which I've said nothing. Well, there you are!

I thought, however, it might be a good time to re-mention Michael's Universal Law of 1911s, to wit, when evaluating 1911s there tends to be an equivalency of quality across price levels. A $1000 1911 is pretty much the same across the various brands. Brand A might throw in a little benny here or there, but they have to take away something else to make the gun come in at a specific MSRP.

That said, in general the quality of 1911s right now tends to be across-the-board excellent, especially on the low end. I've written about the Remington R1, the Taurus PT1911, the Para GI Expert, the lowest of the low-priced Rock Island Armory, the STI Spartan and am passingly familiar with the Springfield Mil-Spec (I've had them before; the only one I have now is the base gun of a Heinie Custom). All of these guns are on the lower end of the price scale for 1911s, and I would have killed for any one of these guns back in 1978, when we were doing build-it-yourself kits with non-functional Colts.

There are indeed things I don't like about each one of those guns, but consider the price. I just got the Taurus back from Cylinder & Slide, where Bill Laughridge wanted to do a comprehensive hardness testing of the various parts (all good except for the MIM parts). Bill did some work on the Taurus to my spec, essentially fitting a new drop-in barrel and bushing, replacing the fire control system, and replacing the MIm safety and a couple of other MIM parts. The Taurus is now an excellent, not-hugely-expensive gun, semicustom gun (which is not a bad way to go with 1911s...start on an inexpensive commodity gun and build to your spec without going completely Brownell's catalog crazy).

I don't have huge feelings about which is best for frames and slides, forged, cast or CNC-machined from bar stock. If done correctly, all produce quality guns. I don't even have it in for MIM (metal injection molding) parts...I just don't think MIM is the appropriate technology for certain applications such as the thumb safety. I have seen lots of MIM'ed thumb safeties break. You want to MIM the mag release or even the hammer, cool.

On the higher dollar Colt Rail Gun I bought recently and left with Cory Trapp at the Gunsite Gunsmithy, all I said was clean up the trigger, fit Novak sights, ditch the ambi safety and the full-length guide rod and knock the sharp edges off it...not very much, and nothing that I couldn't absolutely live without.

I do think major companies have something of an advantage over smaller houses because with modern equipment they can make most,if not all, of their own small parts, which gives them direct control over the quality of those parts. When you sources parts, it is sometimes a crap shoot (I have seen this over and over again in the Real World).

The biggest issue I have on 1911s are people who insist on comparing apples to Chevy Volts...you've all read it, "I don't care what you say! My $4500 Nighthawk is better than a $389 Rock Island Armory!" Well, duh!


Mike A. said...

Interesting. I love to show up to the range with my lightly tuned Rock Island Armory 1911 Tactical and see the snickers of the $3000 1911 crowd.

That smugness tends to go away after the first stage...now granted 98% of competitive shooting is the nut job behind the trigger....but it still makes me smile to run a fast zero down stage with my Sub-$500 gun.

BTW, I made IDPA CDP Master last night with my RIA Tactical with Dawson fiber optics sights....so it can be done...

DamDoc said...

too late! you already conviced me that i NEED one of those ruger 1911s in my hands!

Anonymous said...

Michael, for once I agree whole heartedly with you. With 7 functioning 1911s from various manufacturers and 4 Caspian/Foster frames in the project pile, I find that the Taurus 1911 provides a great bargain for the $. Mine was even more cost effective since I sourced it from a local pawn shop. Several thousand rounds later, including IDPA competition, it has never failed me with the exception of not allowing me slingshot the slide (remedied when I removed the unnecessary added ”recoil buffer.”) It feeds everything and I have yet to have a problem with the MIM parts. They will get replaced over time, but are fine on a range gun so far. As to longevity, my oldest is a 1912 production Colt with Navy marked slide that some youthful idiot (me) had the Navy’s Small Arms Training Unit’s (SATU) smiths turn into a hardball gun (along with a Norwegian framed/Hard slide wadcutter piece) in the early 70s. The old girl is retired, now that I realize what I have and may or may not be restored. She will still shoot better than my old eyes and has her own unique history as is. So I won’t compare apples and volts, but for the $ I think you hit it spot on. The ability to buy a reliable piece with so many bells and whistles built in (ok some sound tinny) and then economically bring it up to higher standards is refreshing.

Jerry The Geek said...

Bob in Oregon continues to compete with his Norinco .45acp, and sweep the field in USPSA club matches. Well, perhaps it's not the gun, but the shooter.

For those of us who are less talented, having a "high-quality" custom good has a certain advantage: it looks really good on Video, as long as you don't look at the score sheet.

When competing in L10 or SS divisions, reliability is the key. Having a well broke in gun (which means you have got all the bugs out, and now you can just relax and shoot with confidence) seems to be the key.

And when has it not?

PS: I still continue to compete from time to time with my Beloved Kimber ... bought in 1999 for the exorbitant price of $283. Point and click every time.

Now, if I could just see the sights ....

Zef M. said...

1911's, oh don't start me on 'my precious'... lol. The best part about my 1911's is that they can suck all the money out of my wallet without me even knowing about it...

The only Taurus 1911 I've seen at the range only worked when you put the safety off, fired, put the safety on, took it off and fired. One shot wonder.

Now on the other hand, I have two Springfield's I'm not letting go of...

Granted my favorite 1911 was a used Wilson CQB I found at a pawn shop that I took to a Vicker's 1911 course and was 'touched' up by the master...

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Gun Holsters said...

1911's has always been my long time favorite!

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