Randall's southpaw .45 ACP.
If you joined the armed forces, you were in for some eye-openers. When they taught you to march (remember, start out on the left foot), you figured these people spoke your language. But then came the first day on the range--and it wasn't too long ago that you would have had to shoot right-handed regardless of preference.
That's changed a bit in the past couple of decades. If you're left-handed, the U.S. services will allow you to fire left-handed--but you'd best shoot well from the start, or some enterprising NCO will make you see the error of your ways.
Such was the case when i entered the Marine Corps. As an officer candidate, and later as an infantry officer, I was allowed to fire left-handed, albeit grudgingly. My service arm was of course the Colt M-1911 A1.45, still my favorit handgun bar none.
Of course, it's a right-handed pistol, and the holsters are intended for wear on the right side. But folks, I've tried to shoot a handgun right-handed, and it's hopeless. So over the years I've muddled along, shooting left-handed with right-handed .45 autos, both my own and the government's. After all, there's no such thing as a left-handed .45 pistol.
Or at least there wasn't until now. Just a few weeks ago Guns & Ammo's Editor Howard French walked down the hall to my office at Hunting Magazine and laid a smallish square box in the middle of my desk. No explanation seemed to be forth-coming, just an odd little grin that broadened slightly as he watched me open it.
I had seen randall's .45 ACP before, and had been impressed. Made of 100 percent stainless steel, the Randall guns exhibit as fine a fit and finish as can be found on the market, and in a short time they have built up a reputation for being extremely reliable. When I took the Randall box out of the plain cardboard container, I figured I knew what lay inside--probably one of the compact versions of Randall's "Service" model.
Wrong. What lay before me was a .45 ACP Service auto, just like the 1911 A1 I know so well, except in brushed stainless steel. But there was something definitely odd about this gun, and it took a few seconds to dawn on me.
I was looking at an exact mirror image of a "normal" .45 auto--in other words, an honest-to-goodness left-handed gun.
Just seeing it was exciting enough, but the best part was that, since I seemed to be the ranking (and only) bona fide lefty around, Howard wanted me to test the new Randall pistol.
Hot dog! First thing was to figure out where the countrols were. Remember, this is a true left-hand version, so a lifetime of shooting right-handed .45s required some rethinking. The most striking difference in appearance is that the ejection port is on the left side versus the right. That makes the gun more pleasant to shoot left-handed without the distraction of empty cases coming across the line of vision. But more important from a handling aspect are the safety, slide release and magazine release--all on the right side rather than the left.
Like most lefties, I have some experience with aftermarket ambidextrous safeties, and if yo1hre left-handed, there's no comparison in ease of operation. However, a slide release and magazine release there on the right side were totally new--and pleasant--experiences.
For you right-handed shooters, imagine if you will grasping a "regular" (right-handed) .45 auto in your left hand. Now, with some difficulty and a great deal of dexterity, you can get your left thumb around the hammer and disengage the safety. Fine. But after firing that magazine, just how do you propose to release the magazine, insert another and let the slide go home? Without changing hands at least once, it's nearly impossible. And that's what we southpaws have always faced with .45 autos.
With the new Randall, it took several dry-fire run-throughs before my fingers remembered where the releases were, but once that was accomplished, I've never had so much fun with a .45 auto.
I made several trips to the range with the new pistol, and as impressed as I was from the start, the gun continued to grow in my estimation. The Service Model is available with both fixed on adjustable sights. Ours was the fixed sight version, with high-profile "combat" sights--the only part on the gun made of dark metal. The sights proved very fast and highly visible, permitting excellent accuracy on the bench, slow-fire with a two-hand hold, and rapid fire. Off the bench it was no problem to keep groups in 2 1/2 inches or so at 25 yards, sometimes better; even during rapid fire strings there was no problem keeping a magazine-full in the chest area of a silhouette target. Functioning was perfect, but two factors must be stressed. First, the randall Service Model is a hardball gun. Wadcutter ammo does not generate enough force to reliably work the slide, nor was the gun built that way. It was also not ramped for reliable feeding with JHP ammo. Stick with hardball--the stuff the gun was made to function with--and you should have no problems. Second, we've all heard about stainless steel galling, and it's a fact. Stainless steel bearing on stainless steel does create more friction than other steels. The answer is simple--lubrication. Keep plenty of lubrication on the slide rails and other moving parts, and there aren't any problems. Try to shoot it too "dry," and you may catch a jam.
Matching the ammo to the gun applies to any firearm, as does proper lubrication. When it comes to pointing out specifics that apply to the Randall, I can't think of any. The company's literature states that "only Randall makes a stainless steel Service Model that meets or exceeds military specifications." I can't dispute that at all. Trigger pull was acceptable; not great, but as good as that on any out-of-the-box .45 ACP. The sights are a bit (maybe a lot) better than a G.I. gun, and the safety is longer and thus easier to use.
To say that it was easy to shoot would be a gross understatement, but it was also easy to shoot well. Since we've all (us lefties, that is) become accustomed to the right side ejection port of a .45 throwing it empties across our line of vision, it's impossible to determine if or how much that distraction affects our shooting. But those empties being ejected to the left and away from rather than across the line of sight was certainly a novel feeling. after "spoiling" myself with the left-handed gun, I switched and fire a couple of rapid-fire magazines with a right-handed Randall, the exact mirror image of the gun I was testing. I have shot a .45 enought that I'm no longer conscious of the direction of the brass. But having experienced its absence, now I noticed it. i could be wrong, but i think a left-handed shooter could improve his score markedly with a left-handed gun--especially in events calling for rapid fire.
Randall's boast is that their guns are 100 percent stainless steel, right down to the springs and pins, and including the magazines. A breakdown of the gun didn't disprove that--the darn thing really is stainless through and through. The only drawback in the world that I can see is that, to engage the release properly, left-hand version Randall magazines must be used. And, complete to the follower, those magazines are also mirror images!
So, users of the left-handed .45 will have to purchase randall magazines. That in itself isn't all bad. Randall has a patented two-legged follower that's the latest word in magazines, and I suspect we'll be seeing them in competition in all kinds of auto pistols.
As I mentioned, our specific test gun was the Service Model. Predictably, it has a five-inch barrel, 8 1/2-inch overall length, and a weight of 38 ounces. Our gun was .45 ACP, but the Service Model is also available in .38 Super and 9 mm--all in both right- or left-hand versions, fixed sights or adjustable.
The randall lineup also includes a combat Model with ribbed slide and flat mainspring housing; the Curtis E. LeMay 4-Star, a compact model; the raider, with shorter barrel but full magazine capacity; and lightweight alloy versions of both the Raider and LeMay. All are available in right- or left-handed versions, and all are available in either 9 mm or .45 ACP. All but the Combat, appropriately, offer either fixed or adjustable sights.
Obviously, Randall has opened up a whole new world for those of us the Fates chose to make left-handed, but they've also got a full line for the right-handed (poor souls) shooters.
You know, I've shot right-handed .45s for so long that it would take quite a gun for me to relearn where all the buttons are. but I'm sold--it makes life so much easier, plus it's hell of a gun regardless of where the empties come out. Now I just wonder if the Marine Corps will let me qualify with it next year? If they will, look out ...
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|Title Annotation:||left-handed pistol|
|Publication:||Guns & Ammo|
|Date:||Apr 1, 1984|
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