Another 1911 Armorer’s Class in the Books


Here I am blending a grip safety for a student. This is normally far beyond the scope of the class, but this student has been carrying this pistol on duty and I couldn't bear to see the frame cutting into his hand any longer.

Here I am blending a grip safety for a student. This is normally far beyond the scope of the class, but this student has been carrying this pistol on duty and I couldn’t bear to see the frame cutting into his hand any longer.

Last month, we trekked out to the last frontier known as the State of Alaska, to do a 1911 Advanced Armorer’s Course to the fine folks at Anchorage PD. I enlisted the help of Colt 1911/M16 Armorer Instructor Dean Caputo to help me out with getting some of the guns to run correctly. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that though the agency authorizes the carry of 1911s to folks who meet their requirements, the vast majority of the SWAT guys in our class chose to carry something a bit more modern and forgiving of the extreme elements in which these guys work.

As usual, the class began with an overview of the 1911 pistol, its variants, and basics on how to detail strip the pistol to its component parts and put it all back together. Since we had different makes throughout the 24 student class, the varied approaches different manufacturers use to build the guns (e.g. different FP block devices, built in locking devices, etc.,) required many students to modify their approach from what John Browning originally had in his mind.  Continue reading

1911 Blueprints: Why You Need Them and How to Get Them

These ordnance drawings reproduced in high quality by Nicolaus Associates are a must have for anyone who works on 1911s or is simply a fan of the platform.

I periodically get inquiries from former students and visitors of this site asking if their 1911 is in or out of spec. With countless manufacturers of the 1911, and even more aftermarket suppliers making slides and various small parts, without the original source material (the original blueprints,) it is hard to tell whose parts are in spec and whose is not. The resource I used in the past were the Kuhnhausen Manuals. Unfortunately, the drawings are not complete and contain some typographical errors. A few years back, a buddy of mine turned me on to the original 1911 ordnance drawings available from Nicolaus Associates. Continue reading

Rogers Precision 1911

My first pistol I bought when I was 21 was a Kimber TLE/RL 1911 (external extractor) which I thought was pretty nice, being young and really having no other exposure than what the guy behind the counter at the local gun store had told me. Between the counter guy’s amazing advice and the gun magazines pushing the latest and greatest, it seemed like a solid choice. Fast forward a few years and more than a couple issues with my Kimber, I was at a range with a few friends of mine when out of one of their pistol bags came a small colt commander unlike anything I had seen before. This pistol was solid black with high power cuts, and one of the most unique textures I had ever seen on a pistol. I was quickly educated that I was holding a Chuck Rogers Built 1911 with his signature golf ball grip treatment. My opinion of stock 1911’s would never be the same again.

For anyone who has been into custom 1911’s in the last two or three decades you will have most likely heard of Chuck Rogers and his shop, Rogers Precision. Chuck has been quietly making some of the most beautiful, functional, and durable pistols ever built. Working out of Prescott, Arizona Chuck acquired his skill as a machinist from a long career as an aerospace prototype machinist in Phoenix. Chuck explains;

“1911’s had been a hobby of mine for several years prior. I was an active competitor in action pistol style matches. Many of the tricks of reliability and longevity were learned in competition. “.

Quickly establishing himself with his unique style and skill as a machinist, Chuck’s guns became more and more popular until reaching the high demand they rightfully deserve today.

I started talking to Chuck long before I had a gun built by him, and I have the great honor of calling Chuck a friend as well. After a couple years my name finally came up in the long list of people impatiently waiting for to be called. My great passion for custom 1911’s lends to my choice of having builds done in what I would consider the individual smith’s “style”. I like to order options that I believe set that smith apart from other builders. With that in mind I had a very specific carry gun in mind for Chuck and his amazing ability to melt the edges on his guns as well as some of his special touches. So, choosing a Springfield mil spec as a base gun for their slanted classic style serrations, the gun left for the Rogers Precision shop and the waiting game began. Chuck is fairly active on more than a couple online forums and a post fairly regularly with pictures of his artistry during the build process. So, I was able to follow the progress and watch with great interest as my base gun was transformed into the image I had built in my head.

Finally I received the call for final payment and the gun was on its way home to me. As you would expect with any high dollar purchase, the expectation I had set for this pistol was extremely high. I will say that Chuck’s reputation as an inventive and top tier pistol smith is absolutely warranted. Having pistols from more than a couple other high end builders, I would venture to say that Chuck is in a level all his own. Not a machine mark to be found and the attention to detail in every part of the gun was evident. The quick lowdown on major options I chose are:

-High Power slide cuts

-Ball cuts

-Rear of slide serrations

-Beveled magwell with lanyard loop rear mainspring housing

-Rounded mainspring housing

-Rogers Precision Sights

-Golf-balled front and back strap, slide stop and mag release

-An option Chuck calls his “bob nose” treatment to the front of the slide to match the angle of the serrations and the high power cut.

These options along with more than a few other small additions, a reliability package, 45acp Kart barrel, all tool steel parts and a covering of black cerakote finished off one amazing looking full size carry gun. The slide to frame fitment feels like they are on ball bearings and the fit of every part on the gun is top notch to include, barrel bushing, grip safety, thumb safety, mainspring housing, etc.

Currently I have had the gun for about 7 months and have only been able to send 2k rounds through it, sadly haven’t been able to get to the range as much as I would like. I’ve only done a very casual wipe down and light lubrication job before each range trip. With a combination of Tripp, CMC and Wilson mags I have had no failures of any kind and it produces little tiny groups.

I would love to nit-pick and complain about something but I can honestly say I can’t think of anything. The pistol is flawless and my overall experience from the ordering, interaction with Chuck and shooting the pistol is awesome in every way. The only negative thing I can think of is, I’m not wealthy enough to own 2-3 guns from Chuck. The wish list would be one of everything.

If you are given the opportunity and have the budget to afford a Rogers Precision 1911, they are truly exceptional pistols. I will not attempt to say they will give you the ability to levitate or walk on water, although my pants do seem to fit a little tighter. I will say for someone that enjoys a hand built 1911 there are few peers to one assembled in a small shop in Arizona by the one and only Chuck Rogers.

Making the Compact 1911 Reliable

Earlier today (at the time I wrote this), 1911 guru Bill Wilson posted an excellent article on his blog on the secrets to making a short format 1911 pistol work reliably. Bill explains, “the basic functional difference between a full size (as John Browning designed it) 1911 pistol and a compact version with a 4.25″ or shorter barrel is slide mass and speed.” The point of the article was that these guns can indeed be made to run reliably if you know what you’re doing. The key lies in controlling spring weights, slide speed (hammer spring and firing pin stop geometry), a carefully tuned extractor, and careful ammunition selection. Follow the right formula, keep up on your preventative maintenance, and you can have a reliable compact 1911 (assuming it was set up correctly to begin with.)

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Thumb Safeties on Pistols: Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?

The question is not meant to have a definitive answer. The answer will depend on your own use and experience. I wish only to offer some thoughts on the matter. The arguments on the thumbs down side usually lean towards users not wanting to have any obstacles to overcome when they need to fire in whatever high stress scenario they can imagine. The arguments on the thumbs up side tend to lean towards the user desiring some additional layer of protection from an unauthorized user being able to fire, and either thwarting their attempt completely or merely giving the owner time to react to the attempt. Being that this article is being presented on Modern Service Weapons, my thoughts are geared towards those who use pistols as just that, service weapons. Continue reading

Colt 1911 Dual Recoil Spring Test – Part 2

Some time ago Hilton contacted me to conduct an evaluation on Colt’s new Dual Recoil Spring Assembly for the 1911 pistol. For those of you who haven’t kept up with the various articles on this, Colt developed the dual recoil spring assembly at the request of the Marine Corps for the new M45 1911 Pistol. The reasoning behind the new spring is to extend service life to 8000 rounds between changes.

Springfield 1911/Colt M45 Dual Recoil Spring Assembly

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First Impressions: Wilson ETM 45 HD/+P Magazine

Wilson Combat has been innovating the 1911 world for decades, and hasn’t stopped yet. They continue to make some of the best high end 1911 pistols on the market, and they’ve been making 1911 magazines since before many of our readers were born. Recently, they’ve been changing the 1911 market by introducing flat wire spring technology in their 1911 recoil springs, which reportedly increase the maintenance cycle by up to 10 times. So if they work so well in recoil springs, why not put them in a magazine?

A common complaint regarding many 8-round magazines is the limited spring life. Use them heavily or leave them loaded for a long time and they quickly lose lift, resulting in malfunctions. The new ETM HD magazine addresses this with a longer tube to fit a longer spring, and a flat wire spring that is advertised to provide 25% more lift than standard springs. Like all their products, the magazine is guaranteed for life by Wilson Combat. Continue reading

COLT M45 1911 Dual Recoil Spring Test Part 1

Springfield 1911/Colt M45 Dual Recoil Spring Assembly

A short time ago Hilton contacted me about evaluating the Colt M45 1911 Dual Recoil Spring Assembly. As you may know from earlier articles, Colt developed the Dual Recoil Spring assembly for use in the M45 at the request of the Marine Corps. The system is designed to prolong spring life between changes and increase the round count between them.

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1911 as a Modern Service Weapon

Recently, I got a call from an officer from a neighboring PD asking if I could take a look at his 1911. You know, because it wasn’t working. I asked him a few questions, and it turns out this particular example was a Colt Rail Gun, but really it could be any permutation of a 1911 Government Model that populate the local gun shops. He said the pistol was giving him fits, he had lost confidence in it, and asked if I could take a look at it.

Of all the 1911 pistols out on the market, Colt probably does the best job putting out guns that generally work out of the box, as seen in my article: Colt Reliability Out of the Box. But they aren’t perfect. So I asked this officer (over the phone), what is it doing? He said it was having feeding issues and also “jamming a lot.” I told him that doesn’t really tell me anything. His response, “Well, I’m not a gun guy.” Continue reading

Photos of the Day: Old School Blaster by Hilton

I set the time machine back about 10 years to revisit with the very first full house custom 1911 that Hilton built for me. I carried it on duty for a few years before retiring it to range duty. Before its retirement, it got shot quite a bit. Over 20,000 rounds through it, including a fairly steady diet of my agency’s then-issue Winchester 230gr Ranger +P (RA45TP) round. Eventually it was too much for the Kart barrel, which cracked from the barrel lugs to about halfway down the barrel.

The pistol went back to Hilton, who tightened the slide to frame fit, and fit up a rare National Match barrel and bushing set produced on contract by Israeli Military Industries. These barrels look and shoot great. The pistol also wears a prototype rear sight that later became the production 10-8 sight. Continue reading

The 72 Drill

After upgrading my Springfield Black Stainless 1911, I decided to conduct the 10-8 Extractor Test while turning the test session into a drill. With the ammo situation being what it is, making every shot count is important. To get more out of the test as a drill I shot 2 – 8 round magazines 1 handed and 2 – 8 round magazines 2 handed. This totaled 32 rounds rather than the 16 of the standard test procedure. Each round was loaded and the magazine removed and the pistol holstered. The pistol was drawn and fired in the required manner to test extractor function, which it passed.

Springfield Black Stainless 1911- Alessi DOJ Open Port Holster- Mitch Rosen 5DM

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MARSOC M45A1 Contract Holsters from Safariland

I’ve gotten a few inquiries as to available holsters for the M45A1 CQBP produced by Colt’s Manufacturing. Some have tried to use the same holsters for the Colt Rail Gun, not realizing the rail dimensions on the M45A1 are different. Anyway, the holsters provided by Safariland to the Marine Corps are a great place to start if you’re looking for a functional, durable duty holster. The Safariland Part Numbers for the holsters are as follows:

6004SS-56-761-SP10-MS30-NH (No Light Attached)

6004SS-530-761-MS30-NH (X200/300 Attached)

These holsters come standard with the excellent Quick Locking System (QLS) which allows the holster to be quickly mounted anywhere you have the QLS locking plate. The SS designation indicates the holster has the compact leg shroud with one strap, a system I find to be more comfortable than the traditional dual leg straps. The compact shroud also allows the holster to sit higher on the leg resulting in less flop and a quicker, more consistent draw.

I did discover that the plastic grommet that surrounds the tensioning screw needs to be removed in order for the M45A1 to fit. This only applies to the model for the M45A1 pistol without the light attached. Both holsters utilize the SLS retention system, which works better for me than the ALS system when used in conjunction with a pistol with a manual thumb safety.

Both of these holsters are available through London Bridge Trading or can be special ordered through any Safariland dealer.