Which 1911 for a duty gun? (Part 2) –
Which gun? You can buy it, build or rebuild it, or have it built. Brand won’t matter as long as the frame and slide are in-spec. Aside from the frame, and the grip safety and other incidental parts, you want nothing but forged or barstock parts. This is particularly critical with the sear, hammer and strut, disconnector, extractor, ejector, firing pin and stop, etc. These are parts that are stressed under firing. MIM sucks. Think of “particle board” metal, and you get the picture. You do not want it in a gun you are betting your life on, and unfortunately practically everyone is using it- remember, they are making them to sell. Avoid any gun with the “Schwartz” safety like the plague. This includes any S&W or Kimber Series “II” 1911 pistol. There is a reason why elite military units have specified that their guns do not have it. There is a reason why Kimber’s “Warrior” series does not have it. They are prone to breakage and problems during re-assembly. If you must have a firing-pin-block safety, get a Colt Series 80. They are much more dependable in operation, and are well proven over the past 25 years. If you learn the manual of arms for the 1911 and commit it to memory- until it becomes second nature- you will not need any of them. Safety rests between the ears of the person operating the gun.
As the QC evident in mass-produced 1911’s goes down the toilet, I am becoming more prone to build my own, checking every part along the way, and double-checking it’s proper installation and function. At least when I’m done, I know that its reliable, how it was built, and what it is capable of. I am right now, horror of horrors, about to pronounce a totally-rebuilt Auto Ordnance WWII model as “duty worthy.” The frame and slide are perfectly in spec, and the junk parts are nearly all gone. It is becoming exactly what those Ordnance Inspected 1911-A1's once were. It could have been a Colt, Springfield, Essex or Caspian, or anyone else's basic GI 1911. As I mentioned before, brand doesn’t matter. What matters is that the gun follows the original blueprint specifications as closely as possible. It can be relatively loose, and still shoot very well. It cannot be extremely tight, and be reliable under adverse conditions.
If I were going out to buy a new 1911 to stick in my holster, I would do one of two things. I’d go find a good clean Colt 1991A1, and look it over like the wares of a used-watch salesman. You will at least be getting mostly forged parts. Buy it as cheap as you can, and shoot the devil out of it until you are confident that it is reliable. It may be perfect right from the box- I have seen several that were, including Commanders. If questions or problems arise, send it to someone who understands the workings of the 1911, and ask them if it need anything- particularly cast or MIM parts that need replacing. When you get it back, shoot it some more. It has to be proven once again. Option Two is to just pony-up and spend the money for an Ed Brown, or similar example from one of the other “custom houses”. I mention Ed because I know that he makes an exceptional gun. He also makes and markets the best parts in the industry, if you are building a gun.
There is another option, and one you should consider. Keep carrying your current duty gun, and go out and get yourself a basic 1911 by a major manufacturer, to try out for awhile. As long as it has a quality, in-spec frame and slide, you can always use it build a gun ON.Good luck, and God bless you for standing in the gap. Don’t try it with a weapon that hasn’t been proven, regardless of the manufacturer or design.
... the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.