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(Re)acquainting with the 1911: two months with an old favorite reminds you of strengths and weaknesses in the platform.

I'm "ballistically promiscuous," i.e.: "so many guns, so little time." I generally change guns every training tour. By midsummer I had spent 2010 carrying the SIG E2 P226, Ruger P345, Beretta 92, S&W in flavors from .45 revolver to M&P 9mm auto, Springfield XD .45 ACP and, probably more than anything else, assorted Glocks. There were also a bunch of test guns thrown in for short periods, since it's kinda hard to test a carry gun for its intended purpose without actually carrying it to see if it has sharp edges that dig, or bulbous portions that bulge.

With the summer sun high, I decided to dedicate to the 1911 platform for a few months. There were several reasons why. The centennial of the 1911 was coming up, and there would be articles to write about that. 2010 was, for me, the 50th anniversary of owning such guns, having received my first as my most memorable Christmas present ever at age 12 in 1960, so there was a little personal nostalgia thing going, too.


There was also a logistical thing going. I was about to spend almost two months on the road, mostly teaching, but with a murder trial, the Gun Rights Policy Conference (GRPC), a visit with younger daughter/son-in-law/grandkids and the IDPA National Championships also on the schedule. Dress code would vary widely, from shorts and un-tucked polo to tailored "court suit," so concealability would be a factor. So, of course, would "shootability." I needed something accurate enough to win a match with, generic enough to teach gun classes with and concealable enough to carry discreetly within a broad wardrobe spectrum.


The 1911 proved to be a natural for that. Most of my students these days show up with autoloaders, so a revolver was out for primary carry, much as I enjoy shooting matches with them. The GRPC was in San Francisco, where under the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act I was legal to carry, but being out of state and not on official police business, had to comply with local laws such as California's stupid 10-round magazine limit. Carrying 10-round magazines for an 18-shot Glock personally offends me, so a single-stack gun seemed logical. If you're only gonna have a single stack, you may as well have a .45 as a 9mm ... and, in what seemed like a confluence of the stars, the 1911 emerged as the logical choice for the long trip.



I traveled with a "holster wardrobe" that included an inside-the-waistband (IWB) Ayoob Rear Guard I had designed for Mitch Rosen long ago, a KyTac high-ride Kydex outside-the-belt holster by Dave Elderton and a High Noon left-handed concealment scabbard in case I sustained an injury to the dominant arm. Two high-quality 1911 .45s went along for the trip. One was a 5" Wilson Combat CQB Elite I was testing for a magazine article and promised Bill Wilson I'd use in the Nationals. It included humongous geezer sights complete with bright green fiber optic front, and a magazine funnel, both good things when running at speed in mostly daylight practical pistol competition.

The other was a signature model Ed Brown stainless into which I'd had some design input, with a 4.25" barrel and Ed's trademark Bobtail rounded butt, and the Trijicon night sights I prefer for defensive use. The Wilson was the competition pistol, the Brown was the daily carry gun, and they shared duty as "teaching pistols." One thousand rounds of Rem-UMC 230-grain hardball, 500 rounds of Remington 185-grain JHP and 100 of Winchester Ranger-T 230-grain were in the van when it rolled out of the driveway. The Ranger was my primary carry load.

The slimness of the 1911 made it comfortable inside the waistband for "wake-up to bed-time carry." I had well over 1,000 rounds through the Brown when I started, and more than that through the Wilson by the time I finished, and both ran 100 percent. Both are also "1" guns" for grouping capability at 25 yards, always a confidence-builder for the user. Reliability plus accuracy is what you're paying for in a Brown or Wilson gun, not just bragging rights. As with all 1911s, a low-bore axis plus up-to-date technique kept the muzzle down when shooting fast and furious against the clock with full house (194,000 power factor) ammo. I shot too slow, but the gun worked superbly in both the Nationals and the Kentucky/ Tennessee Regionals in Paris, Tenn. (When we left the latter and I was grumbling about my glacial times, my sweetie told me, "Don't worry, dear ... we'll always have Paris.")

For more than two months of handgun-related work, the 1911 had proven itself to be all the handgun I needed. The platform had me covered for match shooting and handgun training, for discreet and comfortable concealed carry and for home defense. (Well, hotel room defense anyway.) Never once did I feel inadequately armed with a single-stack magazine of large-caliber bullets proven to expand to about 1" in diameter at FBI's stated optimum penetration depth. It had fit my hand like the proverbial handshake of an old friend.

Because, after all, it was an old friend. Gee ... it's almost enough to make me "ballistically monogamous" again.



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Title Annotation:HANDGUNS
Author:Ayoob, Massad
Publication:Guns Magazine
Date:Mar 1, 2011
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