Some will think I’m crazy, some will ask why, and I’m ok with that…
The thought occurred to me yesterday that of all the handguns I own, the one I shoot best is also my most comfortable handgun to carry. It’s a full size pistol, but I have a good holster that makes it easy to conceal. So, why is it not my edc gun? Let me go into a little more detail. In the early 2000’s I bought an Auto Ordnance GI model 1911a1. The first thing I did when it came in was do a reliability test on it. Using 230 grain hardball as god intended, I fired 200 rounds through the pistol without cleaning it. Yes, during the reliability test it had a few hiccups , but not a huge number and nothing terrible. All were failure to feed malfunctions. After a good cleaning, the thing ran very good. I used it as a fun gun and it was enjoyable to shoot. Then, at some point I stuck it in my gun safe and there it sat for a couple of years until one day I decided to take it out, clean it up and take it to the range. Lo and behold, I couldn’t get more than three or four rounds down range before it would fail to feed. I ended up putting it back in the safe to ponder the situation. At first, I listened to all the internet “experts” saying how terrible the Auto Ordnance 1911’s were and I just figured it was what it was. A few years went by and… Enter the late great Paul Gomez. I happened to be perusing a gun forum and Paul Gomez had made a few posts concerning a clone he built of an Auto Ordnance 1911 called The Combat Master that Chuck Taylor had commissioned J&G’s gunsmith to build for him. Chuck was the first operations manager at Gunsite and was eventually succeeded by Clint Smith. I had communicated with Paul in the past, in fact, Paul Gomez was the person who actually talked me into becoming a firearms instructor and opening my own training business. Anyway, the theme of the build was that it was minimalistic. Chuck Taylor added only what he felt was necessary in a combat 1911. Now I was intrigued and inspired! About the same time, I ran across an article reviewing the Auto Ordnance GI model. The article happened to mention that Auto Ordnance used undersized pins in their 1911s and while they worked ok to begin with, the pins would cause all sorts of problems as they began to wear. Viola! That had to be the problem with my pistol! I immediately jumped on line and went to the Wilson Combat website. I ended up ordering new magazines, a complete set of pins and springs, along with an extractor, plunger, etc. By the time I had finished, I had basically replaced all of the internal parts contained in the frame of the pistol save the trigger. It turned out be a lot less expensive than I had imagined.
Fast Forward to the present. Since making these changes and firing a few thousand rounds afterward, my Auto Ordnance GI model 1911 has had zero malfunctions and has become a favorite range gun for me. The trigger is nothing short of superb which translates into accurate hits on the target. Many people complain about GI type sights on 1911’s but I haven’t found them to be a real problem.
Ok, I know what you’re thinking. I asked the question, why isn’t this my edc gun? Most of you will answer “capacity” or lack there of. The emotional side of me would agree with you. Emotionally, more available ammo on board the gun makes us feel safer and that makes sense. However, statistically the average defensive shooting encounter ends with just three rounds having been fired and the odds that a person would use over 10 rounds in a defensive encounter is nothing short of astronomical. Another answer to my question may be that “1911’s and especially inexpensive 1911’s are unreliable”. Well, The fact is, they don’t have to be. Most problems in today’s 1911s stem from the magazines that are provided by various 1911 manufacturers. There are really only two magazines worth consideration when it con to the 1911 and those are Wilson Combat and Chip McCormick. Wilson Combat has recently bought out Chip McCormick, so we really are left with just one manufacturer of quality 1911 magazines. 1911’s can also be unreliable if you’re lazy. To keep a 1911 working reliably you have to develop a regular cleaning and maintenance routine. It’s really not a big deal for me to regularly field strip, clean and inspect my firearms as I really enjoy doing it. Yet another answer to my question may be “but it’s a huge and very heavy pistol!” The 1911 is a large pistol, it’s overall length is 8.6 inches and it weighs 2.7 pounds empty. However, being single stack it’s the thinnest full size pistol that I own and the weight isn’t really that noticeable with a proper holster and belt. In fact, while I was preparing to write this piece, I had worn the 1911 in an IWB holster for over 8 hours and after carrying mid-size revolvers and Glocks both professionally and privately for most of my adult life I almost forgot it was there.
Before we go any further, let me point out that I’m not a stranger to the 1911. My very first concealed carry gun was a commander sized 1911 and while running a gun store for seven years I often carried a Para-Ordnance P14/45 while working the counter. I’ve never really been into carrying compact guns. They don’t fit my hands well and I simply do not shoot them all that well. Lets face it, there is no denying the reliability of modern striker fired and DA/SA polymer pistols, but today we are living in the golden era of the 1911. At no time in history has such a wide variety and better quality 1911’s been so available to us. I’m not going to get into the whole 1911 vs this pistol or that pistol. I assure you, I get it. I’ve been there.
However, I’ve often seen it written and heard it said that a person should carry the gun they shoot best and by the gods I think I’ll do just that….