(click photo to enlarge image)
When I first found out about this I contacted Bill to get more info about the gun, since there weren't any specs on the web page, just a nice photo of what appeared to be a slick polymer 1911. I was curious to know if it was intended as a replacement for the KZ45 polymer framed .45 ACP that they sell. I reviewed a KZ45 a few years ago in an article in a Harris magazines publication. I took it with me to Gunsite for the GAS (Gunsite alumni shoot) and I liked it so much that I bought it after the review was done. While I was very positive about the one that I T&E'd, the gun hasn't been a big seller for Wilson Combat and has received mixed reviews in various quarters. It's a shame, because despite being a double stack it fits my hand well, more like a Browning Hi-Power than a 1911. It's also lightweight and gives you 10+1 rounds in the gun while incorporating all the major attributes of the classic 1911 platform in the design. If the one you have runs right, it's a fine pistol.
So the question was, is this the gun to replace the KZ45? I fired off a quick email and these are the answers that I got back from Bill.
First, it's a double stack pistol but it's chambered in 9X19mm, not .45 ACP. It has a magazine that's a completely new design and has a capacity of 17 rounds. The slide is narrower and lighter than a traditional 1911. The lock-up barrel-to-slide is like that of a Sig, but it retains the swinging link of the 1911 design. The frame is a new design and is made in the USA, unlike the KZ45 which is made under contract for Wilson Combat in the Republic of South Africa. (I forgot to ask whether this one is made of Kevlar and Zytel like the KZ45 is, so I'll have to get back to you on that.) The frame is smaller in diameter than the KZ45, which should make the folks who like slim guns happy.
As yet there's no price point set, but Bill says that it's going to be hand-made alongside their custom 1911s so it won't be cheap. And as of this moment, there's no plan to produce it in .45 ACP. (Somehow, I think that will change in future, but that's what he said in his email.) Finally, they plan to start deliveries of the new pistol in July.
It's going to be an interesting gun. On the one hand, it reflects the new interest in the marketplace for 1911s chambered in 9mm, which is fueled both by a desire among shooters for guns that are easy to teach with because they're easy for novices to shoot, and that use less expensive ammunition while allowing the shooter to keep his 1911-specific gun-handling skills intact. Being a high-capacity gun it's right up there with the Glocks and others in the number of rounds that you can take to a fight.
On the other hand, it's going to be more expensive than other 9mm 1911s such as the Para LTC. While people who own and shoot Wilson Combat guns tend to be very satisfied with them (and Bill has an absolute guarantee that you WILL be satisfied with your gun, no matter what he has to do to accomplish that), will people pay custom pistol prices for a 1911 with a polymer frame that's not chambered in .45? Does this gun fit some niche in competition that I don't recognize? If so, that would be typical of Bill since he knows all about the ins and outs of action pistol competition.
Among some folks with whom I correspond there has long been a stated desire for a single stack, lightweight polymer 1911 in .45 ACP. The Glock G36 didn't fill the bill, and to date no one else has ventured to produce one, so far as I can recall. All the polymer .45s have been double stacks and, excepting the K45, aimed mostly at the competition market. They've been criticized, sometimes unfairly, for being too big in girth. That hasn't stopped some excellent shooters from burning up the ranges with them in IPSC matches, but those folks who carry pistols for personal defense don't want heavy or bulky .45s. How else can you explain the continued popularity of the basic, original M1911 design among serious pistoleros after all these years? I carried and competed in USPSA with a Para Ordnance P14-45 with a steel frame for awhile several years ago. It weighed a TON. With an extra magazine along I almost needed a gun bearer to tote the thing for me. I gave it up muy pronto and swapped over to an alloy framed P13-45 that I absolutely loved. The S&W 1911PD I carry on occasion now has a scandium frame and is a single-stack. I gave up the extra capacity in trade for the lighter weight, and I don't list to starboard or give myself a herniated disc when I carry it.
I hope that I can get one of these new no-name pistols while I still have the Para USA 9mm LTC in house so that I can compare them side by side. In any case, I'm going to get in my entry so that I have a shot at wining one, and you can enter your suggested name for this new Wilson "Wunder 9" here.