There I was, minding my own business, enjoying life and contemplating the meaning of life when I saw it. Then I bought it.
I bought a new pistol.
If the reader understands anything about this old man, it is that I am not particularly impressed by new guns. In fact, I consider most new guns inferior to those of past times and generally speaking, new guns are boring. No style, no class, little to recommend them for serious usage and no staying power.
I bought a new pistol.
Of course, it’s really an old pistol. However, this one was newly made and put up for sale. It is – if one can credit such a thing – a newly made Colt pistol. It is a semi-automatic pistol in the finest of semi-automatic pistol calibers, .45 ACP. It is the Colt 1911 Anniversary pistol.
Being the nit picker that I am, I found a mistake on the packaging. No kidding. The hang tag from Colt reads “Colt WWII Reproduction Pistol, Model No. M1911A1 ™”. However, it is not. It is a reproduction of a WWI pistol, model M1911. (There is a second tag warning me I “…risk injury or death by handling this firearm.” I suppose that is correct, but I risk injury or death by being alive. When is the government going to mandate that warning in automobiles? Then we’ll have something else staring us from the visors instead of – or in company with – the airbag and child car seat warning. I digress.)
It is a blue steel, all-steel, line for line reproduction – if such is the word; it is made by the same company as made the original – of a 1911 pistol as purchased and issued by the U. S. Government one hundred years ago. It has the tiny front sight and ‘U’ shaped rear sight. It has the beavertail hammer. It has a short grip safety, flat mainspring housing, unscalloped trigger access and long trigger. It does NOT have the Divinely Cursed firing pin safety mistake of the infamous Series 80.
It is finished in a deep blue that reminds one of the gorgeous bluing jobs of the past century, when hand labor wasn’t prohibitively expensive. Make no mistake, it is not as finely finished as those of 100 years ago, but it’s very nice just the same. The grips are real wood, checkered in the ‘large diamond’ pattern of the original. If looks mean anything, this is a really fine pistol.
Colt included two magazines, a ‘multi-tool’ screwdriver and pokey-thing; the modern paranoid, panty-wetting safety manual and a reprint of the 1912/1914 Army manual. The magazines are more or less modern one color (not historic two-tone or even look alike) magazines without marking as to manufacturer. They are stamped ‘.45 ACP’ and look pretty much like a generic blued 1911 magazine.
It fits my hand. I cannot think of how to expand on that. It just fits my hand. It fits my hand just exactly like most other modern handguns don’t. To be politically incorrect – like that’s something new – it gives me that ‘…let’s find the minions of evil…’ feeling when I pick it up.
Dry firing the pistol displays a moderate to heavy trigger – depending on to what one is accustomed. It is certainly heavier than the four and one half pound triggers on the ‘hardball’ pistols I have. However, it is manageable. Probably not more than six or seven pounds, perhaps twelve, it breaks clean. I’ll have to test it to be sure.
Tomorrow is supposed to be middle 50s and sunny. Sounds like a range day to me. A bag of hardball, the chronograph and a few targets and we’ll see what the pistol says.
I have now returned from the range, as it is the ‘tomorrow’ referred to in the previous paragraph. Short version results: The pistol goes bang on schedule and to right where it ought.
Somewhat more detailed results.
All the ammunition was my own reloads, duplicating U. S. Department of War specifications for .45 caliber ball ammunition. In other words, 230 grain full metal jacketed bullets at a velocity of 850 feet per second, more or less. For those interested in such things, I used a couple different loads for this test and break in period.
– 230 grain FMJ bullet with 5.3 grains of Alliant Green Dot powder; WLP primers and Federal nickel plated cases.
– 230 grain Plated bullet (Berry’s, I think) and 5.3 grains of W231 powder; either WLP, Remington LP or Wolf LP primers (all three primers are virtually identical in resultant velocity in my testing) and Winchester brass cases.
– 225 grain Nevada Bullet Company bullets, 5.3 grains of W231, LP primers (as noted prior) and Winchester brass cases.
All this shooting was fired on an indoor range. The lighting is good, but not like outside in daylight. The little sights of the 1911 are a little rough in dim light.
First sequence fired was from seven yards at the X ring of the target. I fired ten rounds, aimed, deliberate, two handed shots to see if the sights were regulated. They are. Nine of ten rounds packed neatly into the upper half of the X ring, with one escaping to the lower left curve. The sights, tiny as they may be, are on.
Second sequence was also from seven yards. I fired fourteen rounds – two full magazines at the center of the target in ‘quick point’ mode. Firearm in hand down at a forty-five degree angle, raise pistol and fire one quick shot – one handed – at the center of the target. They all hit the scoring rings in about a six inch group centered in the nine ring at 8 o’clock. I’m famous for pushing to the left when shooting one handed. I obviously need more range time, he said in a self-indulgent manner.
Third sequence was ten shots at fifteen yards at the center. The shots were centered in the ten ring with a couple shots drifting into the nine ring. I recall having a problem keeping the front sight in good view; I was probably dipping the front sight a bit. Those little bitty black sights are hard to see on a black target background. I will also note here – as well as anywhere – the rounded front sight shows a decided glare on the top. This may cause one to hold the front sight a bit higher than proper. However, even with me losing the front sight from time to time, the gun grouped admirably.
Forth sequence was ten shots at twenty-five yards aimed at the head of the target. Shot two handed, deliberate timing and aimed. All ten shots printed on the head. The center of the group was somewhat low and left, but all were on the black of the target. Again, the little bitty sights didn’t help, but the sights are properly regulated.
Fifth sequence was fourteen rounds fired one handed at twenty-five yards. Point of aim was the high chest area. This was fired in a timed fire cadence, about as fast as I could get what looked like a sight picture. Again, all shots were pretty much where they were supposed to be. The shots were primarily in the top end of the nine ring, drifting down into the ten and X rings, with some in the eight and seven rings.
Accuracy: The pistol shoots where it is pointed. Considering the sights, I find accuracy more than adequate for self-defense purposes. Were this a ‘totally modern’ fighting handgun, I would want better sights, to be specific, patridge sights not much higher than those on the pistol, but wider. The trigger should be a little less in weight. I would not seek a three pound trigger, but a clean five or six pounder would be very manageable in real life. With all that, the gun – using my aged eyes and trigger finger – can make head shots at twenty-five yards.
Reliability: The single malfunction derived from a 200 grain SWC setting back in the case and hanging up on the feed ramp juncture. Not a gun problem, an ammo problem. One I point out that was very easily reduced.
Handling: I am happy to report this pistol does not ‘bite’ the web of my hand as much as other variations I have shot. One does need to roll the hand into the grip from the bottom up, but once in place, the hammer and grip safety do no damage to my rather chubby hand. (Some pistols ‘bite’ me even when I was younger and thinner.) Recoil with hardball is normal for a 1911 or Government Model design. Solid and full, but not painful or overly difficult to control.
As a side note, empty cases went in pretty much all directions. Most of them were behind me and to the right. However, a sizable minority flung forward and to my left. I noted with some curiosity that when shooting left handed, empties ejected further behind me than shooting right handed. (I’m normally a right hander.) This is not really a problem, unless one is gathering fired brass for reloading. Since this pistol is primarily a defense pistol, gathering brass is secondary in importance. Perhaps tertiary or lower priority. (Surely in an actual self-defense event, one leaves everything in situ as much as possible for the following police investigation.)
All in all, I’m happy with this pistol. It fires upon demand; always a good thing. It puts bullets where directed. And it has history and class unknown in plastic gun circles.
Returning to my comment about picking up the pistol and the feel it conveys … I still feel like seeking out evil-doers and instilling the fear of the Almighty into them. I have the proper hat, and I can even do the mocking laugh.
ADDENDUM: I now have a trigger pull gauge. The trigger pull is a bit uneven in weight; showing a range from 5.25 pounds to 6.25 pounds required to trip the sear. I repeat, the sear breaks cleanly and fully, no sliding or creeping between initial pressure and sear trip. I am expecting the weight to stabilize, hopefully on the lower end with more use.
One last comment: The John M. Browning designed, Colt built Government Model – or M1911 in governmental issue form – is not a pistol for the timid, semi-trained or not fully motivated. It is a masterful tool for self defense, but can only be used by those who hold it in esteem and caution. A single action auto-pistol is dangerous; were it not dangerous, it would not be of much use. One views the pistol – all pistols – much in the same way as chainsaws, power tools, motor cycles and red-headed women. They are very useful when properly handled and rather treacherous when treated in a lackadaisical manner. See the following:
The Government Model – M1911 family of handguns require even more attention to handling.