Saturday, August 16, 2008

Variation on a classical theme

For several years I carried a Springfield Armory stainless Limited Edition lightweight Commander .45 as my primary sidearm. I liked it. It was reasonably accurate and felt comfortable as well as comforting on my hip.
It was also a source of significant frustration to me because I had it customized, which opened a Pandora's box of horrors that were finally resolved when the gun was essentially completely reconstructed by Richard Heinie. It now lives with someone else who could afford to ransom it when the work was done.
The experience can best be summed up by quoting the first line of an email that I received from Mr. Heinie after he had identified some problems with the gun, which led to more problems. That first line was "I wish that I had never seen this gun."
Hardly what one wishes to read about one's pistol from the premier 1911 gunsmith in the world. Yeesh.
Before and since then I've carried a G23 Glock .40, a G22 Glock .40, a P99 Walther .40, a G19 Glock 9mm, a Para-Ordnance P13-45 lightweight .45, a G30 Glock .45 compact and some others that don't spring immediately to mind but were serviceable and acceptable. I grew to be satisfied with the polymer guns because they were easy to shoot, had reduced recoil because of the frame material and they required virtually NOTHING to make them run, out of the box.
Yes, their triggers were not those of a 1911, and Colonel Cooper no doubt would have looked askance at my holster had I presented at the Sconce armed in that heretical fashion. But they worked, with the exception of the Walther that I broke (twice), through thousands of rounds in classes and IDPA matches, and after the long nightmare that was my custom .45 that was a GOOD thing!
I especially came to like the lighter weight of the polymer guns. The XD45 that I've carried for the last two years is kinda chunky, but it boasts 14 rounds of Gold Dots in the ammo locker at less weight than a 9-round steel 1911.
Still, I'm a Gunsite grad, and the 1911 is a mighty fine gun. Knocking down poppers at ridiculous distances by virtue of that special trigger is very satisfying, not to mention the style points a 1911 conveys. The G30 is the most accurate stock .45 I've ever owned, but it's chunky, like me. If I'm gonna be chunky I ought to carry a pistola with panache, neh?
I had a Wilson Combat KZ45 that I tested and wrote up a few years back that seemed to be the ideal compromise - light in weight due to its Kevlar-Zytel frame, an excellent grip shape and size and all done up in the 1911 format. But I let a friend talk me out of it and it resides in his gun safe - for now.
Then Smith & Wesson came out with their line of 1911s, among which were several guns with lightweight frames made of an aluminum and scandium alloy that promised great strength with the requisite stiffness. The other features of the guns, specifically the external extractor and the firing pin safety tied to the grip safety, were debatable virtues but not disqualifying defects.
So this week I bit the bullet and got a 1911PD S&W .45 at Bud's Guns in their "Annual Blowout sale". I'm still figuring out which of the other guns in the safe are going to have to go to pay for this one, but that's a problem for another day. Maybe I'll put the dogs on short rations to eke out the shekels for it. Maybe they'll put ME on short rations because I'm the porkiest guy in the pack. We'll see. Having opposable thumbs and the debit card gives me an edge in this debate.
But back to the gun!
I decided on the 5-inch pistol because I thought that the longer barrel and slide would help sighting with my aging eyes (is that a gun writing cliche or what?) and recoil control with the lighter frame. The Commander-sized 1911PD would have been nice, as would the Gunsite version, but this one somehow had the right feel to it. You know how that works, of course.
It shoots, it hits, it hefts and handles like JMB meant it to and it weighs only 30 ounces dry. Compared to my work horse XD45 it's almost svelte. Curiously, given the number of 1911s I've owned and shot in my life, the trigger took me by surprise on several occasions at the first range session because it was so "right there!" as compared to the long take-up and eventual let-off of the XD. When I pressed it, it WENT! Well of course, moron. Duh.
Still, like visiting with any old friend after long absence, rediscovering its virtues is a joy. Now to work it into the carry rotation without dismaying the XD45 that's been my warhorse these months past, and carried me to a respectable finish in the Gunsite Alumni Shoot in 2006. It doesn't do to scorn one friend just to strike up with another, don't you know?
(Hit shore is a purty gun, though, ain't it?)

1 comment:

Xavier said...

My SW1911PD is one of my favorite carry guns. Range Report here.