Monday, February 07, 2011

But it says "Custom" right on the gun!

Hilton Yam is probably the go-to guy on duty 1911s these days. It's been four years now since he pulled Kimbers from the list of 1911s he recommends for duty use, but it seems like there's always someone who doesn't get the word. Apparently North Carolina's liquor cops spent a wad of money on Kimbers, complete with a fruity "ALE seal carved into their handles", only to find that the guns were lemons. This is my shocked face.

Firearms instructor Pat Rogers sees lots of AR15-pattern firearms from budget manufacturers go Tango Uniform at his classes because they are not made to the true military specification: improperly staked gas keys come loose, cheap bolts shear locking lugs, weak extractor springs fail and cause FTE's, et cetera. His derisive term for these is "hobby guns". Sure, they're up to shooting fifty or a hundred rounds at the range every now and again, but when you run them hard, they choke in the clutch.

Most 1911s made these days are hobby guns. They have ejectors that aren't pinned, MIM plunger tubes that won't take a stake, limp noodle cast or MIM extractors that aren't properly tensioned from the factory, and other failings. These are caused by the fact that the design of the pistol is not friendly to modern manufacturing methods, and so shortcuts get made to keep the guns cost-competitive.

You can get a current production 1911 that's properly built and devoid of these shortcuts for right around a grand, which is what makes the current Kimber situation so annoying: They're selling a shortcut-filled gun slathered in cosmetic fluff at a price that could buy you a real heater. This method works in the marketplace, because the things that separate the real deal from a compromised "hobby gun" are pretty esoteric and not visible when the gun's sitting in a showcase. To the untrained eye there's not much to distinguish an RIA from a Taurus from a Kimber from a Colt from a Baer from a $2k+ custom gun. Why spend big money on a custom when the gun sitting on the shelf next to it costs half as much and says "Custom" right on the slide?

Given the current situation in the 1911 market, if you had to buy guns for 100 guys, and you just had to have .45's with A-zone accuracy in a hostage situation, why wouldn't you just buy HK45's?


UPDATE: Oh, look! They were bitty little 3" Ultra Carries, complete with idjit magwell on a subcompact CCW piece. Color me extra unsurprised! More on this tomorrow...


(H/T to Bob via email.)

77 comments:

Anonymous said...

"why wouldn't you just buy HK45's?"

This oughta be a good one...

Brandon said...

Pardon my ignorance (really - no sarcasm intended), but where can one get a properly-built, no-shortcut, thousand-buck 1911? Are we talking a no-frills custom job, or is there something available off the shelf?

Gunnutmegger said...

LOL.

A problematic 1911? Whodathunkit?

Tam said...

Brandon,

Did you read the linked piece from Hilton Yam?

Andy said...

I guess I got my Kimbers at the right time. But that's really a minor issue, as Kimbers doesn't really have a legacy to live up to.
Smith & Wesson on the other hand? I compare their newer "custom shop" releases to mine from back when all my hair was red, and you'd think you were wrestling a Taurus. I guess Thunder Ranch and JCM (not that there's anything wrong with it) gayness displaces craftsmanship...

perlhaqr said...

They're selling 'em? I wonder how much for. It might be worth it just to get one and add an "F" to the front of the seal.

Blackwing1 said...

Help me, Madam Tam.

I bought (in my ignorance) a Kimber Super Carry Custom (full-size, with the bob-tail aluminum frame). I'd gotten tired of lugging my stainless Springfield around, and wanted something lighter.

So far (knock wood) it's been fine...I've got about 1,000 rounds through it; a mixed bag of ball and HP, and the only stoppage has been when I deliberately started to limp-wrist it to see how badly I could go before it stopped.

Here's a question: This full-size/Gov't-size came with a Commander-length (1.06" long) recoil spring plug. When I called Kimber, they told me that this is all that they make, and they ship both their full-size and Commander-size with that length of recoil spring plug. All my other full-size .45's have a recoil spring plug that's about 1.50" long.

The pistol seems to run fine, but should I slap in a full-length spring plug, or just take their word for it? Does any other manufacturer do this? Or are they just blowing me off? I sent them an e-mail with photos, but the service guy who called was very definite about this.

Struck me as very weird.

Nathan said...

perlhaqr +1.

I LOLed. People in the office were startled :)

wv: aleos. ALE o'sh*t?

Tam said...

Blackwing1,

My gut answer is that if it isn't broke, there's no point in fixing it.

Does it have a FLGR?

Brandon said...

Did you read the linked piece from Hilton Yam?

I just finished R'ing TWT, and could've saved us both some typing had I done so before axing the question. It's good to know that at least some of the production guns out there are worth what you pay for them. First-hand experience tells me that Springfield's service is excellent, so it's not a huge surprise that they make some of the better production stuff.

genedunn said...

Honestly, as a North Carolinian, I have a hard time understanding what on earth the guys who enforce liquor laws (the modern day equivalent of the Andy Griffith Revenuer) need a custom .45 with their frackin' seal on the grip. Even if believe they need to be armed to bust up moonshine stills in the boonies, the same glocks that everyone else gets will be perfectly sufficient. What a waste of my money.
PS: "hostage situation" hahaha

Tam said...

Brandon,

I have had my Springfield Professional since late '01. It has been my primary CCW piece for most of that time. I have pounded its guts out and subjected it to deliberate abuse and it hasn't let me down, and other than routine replacement of recoil and FP springs, it has required no repair or special maintenance.

Tam said...

genedunn,

Yeah, it didn't exactly strike me as a real ninja-type outfit, either.

Keads said...

I'm in NC too, and I don't understand why this outfit needed 120 Sig Sauer 552 assault rifles, which were bought in 2006 at a cost of $179,400.

Yeah, you need hardware like this for finding underage drinkers.

I think they are just using tax dollars to get firearms for the personal collection on the cheap!

Read more: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2011/02/07/2039969/costly-ale-guns-fail-get-traded.html#ixzz1DJINwEsQ

Blackwing1 said...

Tam:

The Sooper-Dooper Custom Carry (whatever) came with a standard-length (GI-type) guide rod, and a Commander-length recoil spring plug. I've always been of the (probably uninformed) opinion that full-length guide rods were a solution in search of a problem.

About the only negative is that it's slightly harder to squash the spring plug back into the dust cover for reassembly while controlling the spring to keep if from kinking, and then rotating the bushing to hold it down. First time I tried I launched the plug into the light above my workbench.

I guess I was just wondering if I was being misled by the Kimber people because they didn't want to bother mailing me the $10 plug.

Thanks for taking the time to answer.

Tam said...

Blackwing1,

If what they told you is true, I'd imagine Kimber does that as a cost-saving measure to keep from having to stock two lengths of spring plugs.

1911Man said...

In the carbine class I took, I don't remember Pat R slagging off anybody's particular gun. He did, however, spend a LOT of time commenting on how the EOTech (which he calls EOPuke) sights always die a horrible death in class. Of 32(?) students, 1 had an EOtech. Possibly due to embarassment and shame, it committed seppuku before the first day was up. AimPoint's LEO+MIL marketing rep was in the class, and conveniently donated a superior replacement. Also, Pat will annoint your arms with Vagisil if you're shooting like you need that particular product...

Tango Juliet said...

The things I don't learn here. :)

Make mine Wilson.

Noah D said...

AR15-pattern firearms from budget manufacturers

How is 'budget' defined here? Somewhere below Bushmaster? Lewis Machine Tool and above? Anyone but Colt? It's been a while since I've logged into Arfcom, so I don't know who the latest must-have manufacturer is. :)

Tam said...

Noah D,

"It's been a while since I've logged into Arfcom, so I don't know who the latest must-have manufacturer is."

Wouldn't know. Don't post at Arfcom.

Montie said...

Tango Juliet,I have to agree, or my latest enthrallment, Baer. But these are pricey guns.

It's been a long time since I was able to buy an early 60's production Government model for $175 or so and send it off to Bud Price (endorsed by no less than Ed Brown) or pre "Wilson Combat" Bill Wilson for an additional $175 and $220 respectively and have a top tier defensive and/or duty 1911. Equivalent work costs well over $2,000 now on a gun you will pay over $750 for out of the box.

However Brandon, there are good guns out there with all the necessary doodads for a grand or so. Tam gave one good example.

The Kimber snobbery runs deep in some. I was at a school a couple of years ago and saw another cop packing a 1911 among all the Glocks, SIGs and occasional HK's. On break we were talking 1911's and he was quite emphatic about the superiority of his Kimber over my mere Colt (Ted Yost worked Government Model). that's when I knew that he was not a 1911 guy, just a Kimber snob who thought carrying a 1911 made him cool. Perhaps it did but it didn't make him any smarter.

Thomas said...

Tam,

What do you think of the the STI Spartan an entry level 1911?

Tam said...

Montie,

My '66 Colt hasn't had a lick of "reliability" work done to it, FWIW. The chamber isn't even throated, but it runs just fine, even with SWC and JHP...

Tam said...

Thomas,

"What do you think of the the STI Spartan an entry level 1911?"

I've never heard anything but good stuff about them.

The Jack said...

That's the Kimber buisness model.

Bragging + Shiny + Past Rep.

The real sad part is the only "custom" they have is overpriced and cosmetics, and that is pretty generic and mass produced.

And I'm saying this as someone that has Kimbers and likes them.

So, I'll give this bit of advice: if you must get one buy it used and try to get an older one and avoid as much "flash" and fluff as you can.

Montie said...

Thomas,

I have no personal experience with the Spartan, but a buddy of mine on a nearby suburban department I used to work for, carries one on duty and has had good luck with his.

No malfs, no breakdowns, with about 2500 rounds through the gun to date.

Keads said...

I carry my '86 Colt Commander 1911 and except for getting a new ejector last year and routine maintenance it pretty much is off the shelf. I bought it new. I have no complaints for a 400 dollar gun!

Montie said...

Tam,

Actually, I had no reliability issues with either of the guns I mentioned. I just wanted that "fancy stuff", although both lack beavertails (not predominant at the time). That was primarly because I was shooting a lot of IPSC back then when a mild custom was a "race-gun".

The Price gun has S&W revolver adjustable sights and a genuine (as in obtained by Bud directly from Armand) ambi safety.

When I carried it on duty back in the 80's I had to convert back to the stock Colt single side safety as the duty holsters of the day interfered with the Swenson.

Tango Juliet said...

Mag well on a 3" gun?!?!?!!? Now why didn't I think of that?

John B said...

Oh, I'm a real bad boy, with my Llama .45, I think I've had a dozen slides on it. The Kimber .22LR conversion was a severe disappointment to me. I put it into a drawer intending to make a frame that would accept Ruger .22 magazines, and the Kimber slide.

A friend saw the slide in the shop, had to have it, offered me money, promised not to bitch when it didn't work right.

Being a fair man, I let him have the slide for what I had in it. Found him some more springs, and let him know he could come in, and I'd turn a spring for him whenever.

He comes in every six months or so, and has me wind him up 3 springs. His mantra "Stay away from CCI ammo." He's convinced that's what spoiled it for me.

I love me a Llama Frame with a no-name Slide.

Right Now though, I love me a Smif 457.

Enough to buy me a Dragon Talon for it!

Mulliga said...

It's posts like this that really make me wary of dipping my toes into the 1911 pool again. Especially when I could grab a Jerry Miculek 625 for at or around the same price, and feed any .45 ACP I want without worrying about fail-to-feeds or fail-to-extracts.

Old NFO said...

Good post Tam, and very good comments. There ARE good 1911s out there that don't say Kimber and actually work :-) My 1918 Colt is in the shop right now, getting probably it's second upgrade since new. One point that I noticed was Hilton's comments on magazines, I've found that to be a BIG issue over the years.

I now run either Ed Brown, C&S or Wilson mags.

pdb said...

The real story here isn't just the pistols, but that it's a taxpayer funded, heavily discounted straw purchase that's only legal because it's a bunch of Only Ones doing it.

This happens every 3 years with this outfit, and it's a scandal nobody seems to care about. I don't even know WHY we have a bunch of armed revenuers in this state. Oh wait, yes I do, but it doesn't have anything to do with fighting crime.

Tam said...

pdb,

"This happens every 3 years with this outfit..."

Apparently they had serious issues with the previous batch of P229s *cough!*RonCohen*cough!* and after SIG couldn't make them right, the head guy thought it would be cool to have Kimbers.

From what I've been reading around the 'net, I don't think many of these revenooers are going to be buying their Ultra Carries back from distributor that's taking them in on trade...

NCDave said...

There was some hoopla about the Kimbers when they were purchased; the Raleigh News and Disturber saw to that, and there was legitimate question on the need.
Just a little background, not necessarily defending the Kimber purchase: the ALE is a state agency and part of the State Emergency Response Team, which provides resources for disaster and emergency response. SERT is led/managed as needed by the Division of Emergency Management for the Secty. of Crime Control and Public Safety. Thus, the ALE agents are subject to being called up during a disaster or emergency such as a hurricane recovery or civil disorder. In such cases, ALE and other state agencies may be deployed to supplement local law enforcement to prevent looting, secure damaged areas, and provide an armed LEO presence at certain vital facilities. Such deployments have been done during Hurricane Floyd in 99 and a few other events, but it is not a frequent thing.

Anonymous said...

Lord knows Kimber doesn't have a lock on the use of model-name hype as a compensator (heh) for an overpriced and underperforming product. But I do know that my gut reaction when taking my first Kimber LNIB 1911 in trade, was that any product on which they felt the need to slap a giant engraved ULTRA, had something to hide. Yeah, it was an ULTRA-CARRY. I've learned to trust that gut over the years, seems it was right again. But I'm sure they'll have better luck with the next-gen MEGA series.

As for those who ask why them low-down revenooers need the shiny, Wiki has an answer:

"The USA Shooting Team, Marines assigned to Special Operations Command, and the LAPD SWAT team use Kimber pistols."

Not content to be only Onlies, they really really wannabe SUPER ULTRA MEGA onlies.

AT

Mr. Fixit said...

Here is another question;

What about the CZ/Dan Wesson Valor?

I'm hearing good things about them, like being about the best value in quality production 1911's. Anything to this?

Mr Fixit

Noah D said...

Tam,

Not sure if it was clear, but that was a snark at arfcom, not you.

In all seriousness, though, when you say 'budget ARs', what do you have in mind?

Montie said...

To be fair, I DO own one Kimber and it is a 3" Ultra CDP II. One that was built with a blackened stainless slide rather than two-toned. I carry it frequently in the summer when its just too damn hot to try to conceal even a LW Commander sized gun. The gun has been very reliable with no hiccups in about (at last count) 1600 rounds. One thing that I tend to follow with it though is to consider it a gun to be carried a lot a shot a little. I followed that philosophy with my very first 1911 pattern compact, a Star PD and it served me well with no problems for many years as long as I changed out the synthetic buffer every few hundred rounds.

I was wary of the gun at first due to hearing of sudden reliability problems (as in no go bang) centering on the drop safety system used by Kimber, but haven't encountered any problems yet.

But then I rarely shoot it except to qualify it as an off-duty gun.

tanksoldier said...

Maybe I'm out in the cold here, with all this talk of Baer, Wilson, etc, but I fail to see anything wrong with an old-school 5" 1980 SN Series 70. It's my regular carry piece when I don't HAVE to carry something smaller. Am I missing something?

Montie said...

tanksoldier,

I own some expensive 1911's but one of my favorites is a totally stock (right down to the tiny sights)government model that was one of the first civilian models produced after WWII. It is in pristine shape so I am loath to carry it much, but it makes a great "barbeque gun" (as John Taffin dubs them) with the Mammoth ivory stocks I have on it (OK, that one thing isn't factory stock).

I never feel undergunned with it and it functons 100% with Federal Expanding FMJ (I haven't really tried it with a variety of JHP's since it works as well with those as it does with ball).

I have spent way too much money over the years (according to my ex-wife) on guns, some of the most expensive were custom 1911's but a stock Colt with good sights and good reliability, in the hands of someone who knows how to use one, is a wonderful defensive handgun.

Montie said...

NCDave,

A 3" 1911 would not be my first choice of handgun for the type of emergency service you describe. I think I would go with a 5" gun and then only a backup to my rifle.

Mr. Fixit,

One of my guys has a CZ Dan Wesson bobtail Commander sized gun for off duty carry and loves it. I don't think he's had a lick of problems with it but he's only owned about a year.

But, CZ-DW's are no longer "economical guns". I've priced them recently and new they are running between $1200 and $1800.

Anonymous said...

My engineering practice has led me to look at cast and forged parts as functional alternatives. One uses a different more expensive alloy for cast to get the same strength as low alloy forged, but save a bit of process cost. Both can give good service, and they are normally quite competitive with each other. We would attach competing parts to different sides of the same truck, and drive them on our test track. When one broke, we would drive back to the shed, and often the other would break on the way: No meaningful difference in life. I know JMB would have chosen the forged, or milled, but he had different alloys available, and different cost parameters.

docjim505 said...

Tam - Firearms instructor Pat Rogers sees lots of AR15-pattern firearms from budget manufacturers go Tango Uniform at his classes because they are not made to the true military specification: improperly staked gas keys come loose, cheap bolts shear locking lugs, weak extractor springs fail and cause FTE's, et cetera. His derisive term for these is "hobby guns".

The $64000 question is: "How do you know before you buy?"

I often grouse about "professional" gun reviews as there is much ink spent on (IMO) silly "performance" issues like "it shoots a 1.314" group using Fedingster XYZ ammunition" or else cosmetic items like "fit and finish". It seems to me that the acid test is whether the gun will keep on going after firing several thousand rounds of mixed ammo with only modest (if any) cleaning / maintenance. Obviously, this is a very expensive test, so it isn't done very often.

"Amateur" reviews tend to be even worse: "I bought a P&M40A1XR and it is THE BOMB!" Um... Why? How often have you fired it? Under what conditions?

I'm also a little leery of recommendations from "training experts" because it seems that many of them really aren't, or else they are basically employees of some manufacturer and are paid to use (and praise) that company's product.

Sigh...

Yam raises a good point when he writes that the "duty" gun has somewhat different requirements than the competition or the CCW gun, mostly the need to be more rugged and corrosion-resistant.

This raises the question about what the gun is for. For most of us, the "hobby gun" is quite adequate simply because it's not at all likely that we'll have to refight the Battle of Rorke's Drift. Here again, Yam makes a perhaps his best point: the gun, INCLUDING MAGAZINES, must be properly maintained and monitored. Though it may need a few more trips to a 'smith than the Rorke's Drift-ready version, the "hobby gun" can give good service to the vast majority of users.

Andrew said...

I like a beautiful gun as much as the next guy, but for cops, why not a fairly indestructible, cheap Glock?

It's not that 1911s aren't cool and everything, and I'm not much of a Glock fan, but it sounds like it takes a lot of time, money and attention to keep a 1911 police gun running.

wv: sciseal -- Mr. Wizard with flippers.

docjim505 said...

Ditto Andrew. From various articles and comments I've read, it seems that the M1911 - the pistol that served several GENERATIONS of American soldiers from the dusts of Mexico to the jungles of Vietnam - is a finicky, delicate, inaccurate and otherwise hard to shoot pistol unless one spends thousands of dollars to have an expert 'smith work it over into something actually usable, and hundreds more to have an expert armorer keep it in working order. An F-16 MIGHT require slightly more expert attention and expense, but not much more.

So, why buy a 1911 at all? Why not take the money you'd spend to get a 1911 that "works" and instead drop it on a couple of Glocks, M&P's, XD's, etc?

Dan F said...

Instead of a 1911, a Hi-Power. Or its descendant, the CZ-75.

Single-stack .45? Another Hi-Power cam derivative, the Sig 220.
If ya want a 1911, it's preference.

Anonymous said...

The feed problems for your Kimber can most likely be solved by going to Hornaday's new personal defense rounds. That little plastic "nipple" lets the rounds run right up the ramp. And, yes, my UC II 3" will not run most other ammo.

Back to my CZ 75s in 9mm and .40.
OldeForce

Tam said...

docjim505,

"From various articles and comments I've read, it seems that the M1911 - the pistol that served several GENERATIONS of American soldiers from the dusts of Mexico to the jungles of Vietnam - is a finicky, delicate, inaccurate and otherwise hard to shoot pistol unless one spends thousands of dollars to have an expert 'smith work it over into something actually usable, and hundreds more to have an expert armorer keep it in working order."

If that's what you read in Hilton's article, I think my link is broken.

Tam said...

OldeForce,

"Back to my CZ 75s in 9mm and .40."

My experience with recent-production CZs pretty much echoes Todd's.

Comrade Misfit said...

Yam is wrong on one point, when he says that everything has to happen faster with shorter-barreled pistols. If you look at slow-motion footage of 1911s firing (there is footage of an AR-15 in there, just go past that), you'll see that the bullet has left the barrel just as the slide and barrel have begin to move backwards.

A 3" .45's slide has to go back as far as a 6" .45's slide in order to eject a case and feed a new round.

The difference is, of course, that there is less mass in a compact .45's slide/barrel, so you need a stronger recoil spring and the gun is probably more picky about getting the same amount of recoil impulse.

Tam said...

Comrade Misfit,

"...so you need a stronger recoil spring..."

And the stronger recoil spring will close the lighter slide at a higher or lower speed? ;)

Hilton doesn't tell you how to fly planes...

tom-the-impaler said...

I have an OLD CZ 82, and a better production gun was never made, My Newer 2075 RAMI had to go back for feed issues, as did the 75 B. They both tick like clocks now, but they shouldn't have had to go back for work to do so. The old, beat up surplus 82 outshined them both combined.

Bram said...

Wow there is a lot going on in the Charlotte Observer article. Is there really an agency called "ALE" collects alcohol taxes in NC?

Apparently the guys who run the place use the ads in American Rifleman to make their weapon purchases. The NRA will be happy.

My only experience with the 1911 was training in the USMC that could be called familiarization at best. I carried it on guard duty a few times – it was big, heavy, and only carried 7 rounds – and I put my chances of hitting anything beyond 10 feet away with it at zero. At least the Beretta was lighter, easier to use, and had twice the capacity for me to spray around. (I refused to let an armorer issue me an M9 in 1990 – deployed with a rifle instead).

Tam said...

Bram,

"I put my chances of hitting anything beyond 10 feet away with it at zero"

Of course, the last military 1911s were made in 1945 and that the gun you were carrying was shot to death and significantly older than you were.

And I think the M9 is a much better choice for a general issue service pistol than the M1911, too.

Issuing single-action pistols with no way of safely decocking them to troops who get no pistol training is just asking for NDs.

Bram said...

Yep - That being 20 years ago when my pistols skills were nonexistent, I NEVER chambered a round. When the Sgt. of the Guard wasn't looking I pulled the mag and shoved it in my front pocket. If there was actually a threat, they would have retrieved my M16 from the arms locker and had my carrying that.

Tam said...

Bram,

Ironically, I think the 1911 would be fine for general issue if it had an enclosed hammer.

After all, people walk around with cocked '16s all the time, but seeing the hammer back on a service pistol just makes private Cletus, who makes your average city cop look like a Delta Force operator when it comes to pistol training, want to lower it with his thumb SOOOO BADLY that he can't resist and BAM! ;)

Anonymous said...

i am shocked that no one lists the H&K USPC 45 as a carry gun...
they seem to be flawless if not as 'cool' as a pimped out 1911...
all my gi surplus 1911's ran without fail even with jhp...
the modern knockoffs are crap not worth the potmetal used in them...

Thomas said...

I am looking at an AR upper from DSA Inc.

http://www.dsarms.com/DSA-ZM4-A3-Upper-Receiver-16-Barrel-Mid-Length-HG---DSZM4CBUMID/productinfo/DSZM4CBUMID/

Anyone have any experience with the good or bad, I am going to put this on an Essential Arms lower....

Oleg Volk said...

As a photographer, I deal with fit and finish issues all the time. If I have to retouch tooling marks all over the exterior of a product, it makes me wonder about the interior. As a shooter, if an M16 built by company A wobbled all over the place during a burst and a similar gun built by company B stays on target and cycles more smoothly, then that's a real difference of production QC and engineering expertise. I had a JP LRP-07 rifle which ran 100% but shot only 0.8MOA and was judged defective by the manufacturer (turned out the muzzle device specified by me was the problem), so they replaced it with a sub-0.5MOA gun. Having worked with a dozen brands of ARs last year, I see a massive difference in build and design quality between brands. Only sometimes does it correspond to price.

Kansas Scout said...

I guess I got lucky and bought my Kimber back about 9 yrs ago. I have a Custom and not a two.
It's been a fine pistol. Even before I heard that Kimbers are no longer "
all that" I was thinking Colt if I got that Commander LW I was wanting.
It ought to be a crime when a Corp. ruins it's product by cheapening it up and thereby losing what made it desirable in the first place. Witness what Schlitz did and what happened to them. I would guess Kimber would be doomed.

Firehand said...

Bought a Kimber Compact about 12 years ago, and never a problem with it; really ticks me off when a company cheapens and degrades their product.

Especially when they do that and then want to charge you first-class-parts prices for the thing.

Crawler said...

“Given the current situation in the 1911 market, if you had to buy guns for 100 guys, and you just had to have .45's with A-zone accuracy in a hostage situation, why wouldn't you just buy HK45's?”

Good read Tam.

When I bought my first polymer frame pistol - the HK45 - in 2007, my time spent in gun shops eyeing and drooling over 1911’s dropped sharply. After I bought my HK45C in 2008, I quit looking at them altogether.

I own a few 1911 “recreational” pistols, but unless I run into a deal that I simply can’t refuse, I seriously doubt I’ll be adding any more to my arsenal…

Robin said...

While Kimber has fallen in quality as documented, it didn't help that NC ALE bought joke guns.

Tony said...

"Mag well on a 3" gun?!?!?!!? Now why didn't I think of that?"

Well, it does make the gun large enough so that it can legally be owned in Finland. ;) Other than that, yeah, can't really figure out a reason for that one either.

Sigivald said...

pdb: That's not a "straw purchase".

Since the guns are not being transferred (in the 18 USC 922 sense, of ownership) to the agents, but remain the property of the agency, there's no way it could even be one, assuming that the agency properly represented itself, via its agent, as the purchaser of the firearms.

It's a stupid waste of local taxpayer money, but it's not a "straw purchase" by any of the ATF's definitions.

docjim505 said...

Tam @ 7:16 AM, February 08, 2011 - If that's what you read in Hilton's article, I think my link is broken.

I suppose that I should have added a /sarc tag, but I stand by the fundamental point: the 1911 served well as our primary service pistol for over 70 years, which is unimpeachable testimony to its basic reliability. Yet, even Yam discusses the fact that only some modern versions are to be trusted, and even then they require a good bit of TLC from a professional armorer. How did we get from Alvin York knocking off Boche without a hiccup to "you need two in case one stops working"?

Oleg Volk - As a photographer, I deal with fit and finish issues all the time. If I have to retouch tooling marks all over the exterior of a product, it makes me wonder about the interior.

Reasonable, but my Garand and my Bulgie Mak both have lots of tooling marks here and there but work quite well for their intended purpose. I think that the same might be said about millions of Kalashnikovs around the world.

Oleg Volk - Having worked with a dozen brands of ARs last year, I see a massive difference in build and design quality between brands. Only sometimes does it correspond to price.

Which gets back to my question: how do you know before you buy?

Love your photography, by the way. The only problem is that it can be a touch depressing: "I want one of those... but I can't afford it!"

Turk Turon said...

Like Montie, I have a 3" Ultra CDP II. I tested a dozen different magazines and settled on the Wilson Combat 47 OXC. I like the gun for CC. It's light, small, powerful and, so far, reliable.

carnaby said...

1911's have a "safety button?"

Anonymous said...

Tam, The 9mm CZ was purchased used at least five years ago, so maybe I got a good one. The .40 was also purchased used, about 2 1/2 years ago - the mags would not hold a full number, and did not feed properly. So the gun came at a very good price. CZ sent me two new mags, redesigned, and it shoots where I want it to [most of the time!] with no failures to feed. Of course, I still prefer to carry the 296 when I work a gun show. OldeForce

Dr. StrangeGun said...

Blogger ate my post, apparently too verbose or something. tl;dr :

1 - CZs dirty up quick and pack carbon around the breech, lugs, locking cam, and especially extractor hook. Clean it.
2 - firing pin safety: CZ goes up, Tanfoglio drops to release.
3 - Me trust one to carry? Absolutely. Me trust one to 14,000 rd training camp? Not unless I got to detail clean every 2000rd or so, spot oiling won't cut it.

Anonymous said...

So while you've got a 70 something page comment thread I might as well ask...why all the hate for RIA* around here? They seem to get pretty much unanimous favorable reviews and are no-shit USGI spec.

(*At least I'm assuming that's what you're talking about when you reference 'filipino slag guns'. If not RIA then who?)

Kansas Scout said...

As a postscript to my previous comment, I have learned some things about 1911's and the people who work on them that I had not known before. I tend to believe people with experience when they tell me something about a firearm. The whole thing is qualified by the category of user. Being a casual user that will never put thousands of rounds through my Kimber, I feel little concern for the problems mentioned related to high round counts.
I bought my Kimber specifically to have a single action trigger so I can shoot better. I still think I made the best choice. I do see the point of your recommendations for other pistols and it's more than reasonable. Thanks for the info

Fruitbat44 said...

Interesting item. I'm an -almost- complete armchair gunslinger so a lot of this stuff is pretty theoretical to me.

Some posts have commented about a "waste of taxpayers money" , the Charlotte Observer article Tam links to states that " . . . avid gun buff and collector, Chandler ordered Kimbers with special sights and the ALE seal carved into their handles, spending $158,250 provided to the agency through federal seizures involving alcohol, drugs and illegal gambling . . . "

Not exactly taxpayers money, but still a lot to spend on something which appears to have delivered more on looks than on performance.

Tam said...

Anon. 8:26,

"...no-shit USGI spec..."

The hell they are.

"USGI spec" implies a forged frame and slide and all small parts machined from forgings, not a gun assembled almost entirely of castings.

An RIA is perfectly adequate as a hobby gun, however.

Geodkyt said...

carnaby said...
1911's have a "safety button?"


Yeah, it's that thingie inside the trigger guard. If you don't touch it, it don;'t go off.

Quit touching it! {grin}

Dr. StrangeGun said...

hrmm...

Forgings start as castings, but the forging process beats all the fail out of the metal. This is the problem with cast parts, sometimes there's enough fail in the metal that it starts leaching out and getting all over your hands.

And to be fair, the slide I took off the RIA 1911A2 I used for Spacegun's frame was identified as machined from a high-pressure extrusion, which is in some ways halfway to forged. Frame was cast though (that massive mag well almost dictates it) and I had trouble with the stamped sheetmetal trigger bow. Rest of the parts were likely cast but looked fine. No MIM!

speaking of MIM and new process, how long do you think before someone picks up the new aluminosilicate 'Gorilla' glass as a competition sear surface in bolt rifles?