Les Baer TRS for first 1911 - Am I Crazy ?*


Zak Smith
January 6, 2003, 03:49 PM
In the next several months, I plan to buy my first 1911. This is intended to be a "serious" self-defense pistol, with the following attributes:

100% reliable with premium JHP's (after break-in)
at least "combat accurate", i.e. 1 hole groups at 7 yards.
good fixed night-sights, POI=POA from the factory
good trigger from the factory
strong-side safety only (not ambi)
good warranty
works from the box and needs no modifications
high build quality and attention to detail
able to get one into my greedy mitts without waiting months and months

Yes, I realize that I could probably meet these requirements with a Kimber, S.A., or Colt and save $500-$800. I've looked at those side-by-side with a Baer TRS or Xtreme (basically a stainless TRS with ambi safety, magwell, and FLGR) and the Baer looks way better.

I could have a pistolsmith build one up from high-quality parts (e.g. Caspian frame/slide set, tool-steel components), but that's going to take months and months, and it will probably end up over $2k.

I am experienced with handguns: Glocks, HKs, CZs, BHPs, revolvers, etc, and need a 1911 in .45ACP. Is a TRS a bad choice? Any suggestions?


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January 6, 2003, 04:02 PM
I'm sure the Les Baer is a fine handgun, but there are quite a few fine 1911 closer to $1000 that are superior to the Kimber, SA and Colts.

The ones that people have been very happy with recently on the net are the STI and Dan Wesson. S&W is coming out with a 1911 (and the S&W 945 that I saw and handled was a very fine peice of hardware). Valtro owners are way happy with their guns as well.

So, if the only reason you want the Les baer is because its better than Kimber, Colt and SA - then I think you should cast your net a little wider. You may find that the DW, STI, S&W and Valtro are all just as fine, and maybe a lot less money.
Or, maybe you'll find that the Les baer is still a good deal. Either way, take a look around.


Zak Smith
January 6, 2003, 04:09 PM
There are some others in this quality or price range: Valtro, Dan Wesson (Patriot), Rock River, STI.


Sean Smith
January 6, 2003, 04:25 PM
Maybe you are nuts. I dunno. It depends on why you want to get the TR Special.

If you think you will have a better weapon because it is pretty polished blue and has fancy hoo-has hanging off it, you are mistaken. You will wear the pretty blue off it quickly if you use it as a practical weapon anyway.

If you think you have to spend $1,500 to get a good 1911, you are mistaken.

If you think it is a good combination of features and performance for the money, you are probably right. How much better it is than a $1,000 or $600 1911 could probalby be endlessly debated... it depends on how you define "better." There really isn't a compelling reason to NOT get a Baer, except that they are kind of expensive.

Zak Smith
January 6, 2003, 04:38 PM
Nope, don't want hoo-ha hanging off it. Looks like I've got to spend at least around $750 for a good 1911.

Thanks for the responses

El Tejon
January 6, 2003, 04:42 PM
Sean's right, the bluing wears off after a year of regular use as it should. It means you have been training as you should. Remember when you buy your weapon, beat on it with a framing hammer so you will not baby it in training.

The TRS is an excellent weapon and worth the dough. YMMV, but it's a quasi-free market.

Good gear gives you confidence, but not skill. The shooter is the weapon. No magic sword, blah, blah, blah.

Peter M. Eick
January 6, 2003, 05:16 PM
My first 1911 was a Baer Premier II. I think your choice is a good one.

Zak Smith
January 6, 2003, 05:19 PM
I'm not concerned about the blue finish wearing. I live in a pretty dry climate, and when it wears out, I'll have it reblued or hard-chromed.

Not trying to substitute skill; I just want the best tools possible and it's usually cheaper to buy quality the first time around.


January 6, 2003, 05:25 PM
Also, wouldn't hurt to look into the Valtro.



Valtro Website (http://www.ValtroUSA.com)

Sven's Valtro Photos (http://www.imageseek.com/valtro)

January 6, 2003, 05:39 PM
When I bought my 1st handgun, I really wanted a P7M8 but it seemed really expensive, especially for a first gun. Somehow, I ended up w/ a Taurus 380 that I absolutely hated. Sold it w/in a few months (at a loss! :cuss: ), & bought the P7M8 and it has been with me since. Short story long, get the Les Baer if it will make you happy from day one, shoot it, get familiar w/ it and don't look back! ;)

January 6, 2003, 06:17 PM
If you are sure that you want to use the 1911 as a defense platform, then I would say go for it! I've shot one in an IDPA competition and in casual training at the range. They are simply outstanding guns!

January 6, 2003, 06:36 PM
and more than 1/2 for the Baer with the Dan Wesson Patriot and it's one helluva well built pistol. Loaded, match barrel, external extractor, tight fit, low mount sights, checkered wooden grips, carbon steel. That's a lot of cash saved over a Baer, which is a fine pistol but a lot of dough.

Sean Smith
January 6, 2003, 07:39 PM
Nope, don't want hoo-ha hanging off it. Looks like I've got to spend at least around $750 for a good 1911.

Funny, I spent $570 for mine a couple of months ago. :D

I had a $1,800 custom job, too. Was it nicer? Yes. Much prettier. Looked and felt way cool. Was it better as a practical weapon? Not really, it was more accurate at 25+ yards, but not as much more as you might expect. If you want nicer, spend more and enjoy it. Cool guns are, let's face it, cool. They are more consistently good than factory guns, but good factory Colts can be surpisingly good... Ted Yost had some new Colts that grouped under 2" at 25 yards out of the box before he laid a hand on them. Sure, some Baer or Wilson can cut that to 1" or less, and my custom was more like 0.8". And nobody will tell you that more accurate isn't better than less accurate.

But at some point you have crossed over from "real performance" into "stuff to impress your buddies" or "stuff to make you feel warm and fuzzy for no good reason." Which, like I said, is great fun (I've done it, and I'm sure will again), but if you really are concerned with performance first and foremost, you hit diminishing returns with a 1911 really fast.

Because there is only so much to do to the silly thing. Reliability-accuracy-trigger. That's all there is, or all there is that matters... everything else is window-dressing. Some people feel inferior if they don't have window dressing. Some people like it because, hey, why not dress up your windows? :D

What all this rambling comes down to is that you don't "have" to spend $750 for a good 1911. The floor is more like $450 for a SA milspec, unless you don't think it is "good" unless it has a beavertail and Novaks or fake Heinies, at which point $750 is probably about right.

Random thought: a $450 SA Milspec with $300 to fit a Bar-Sto barrel and $100 for the trigger gives you $850 for a gun that will shoot with pretty much anything in existence for double the price. More than one way to skin a cat, especially if you don't care about flash.

Zak Smith
January 6, 2003, 07:52 PM
To be frank, I don't care for Kimbers or SA's. I've fondled a bunch and the triggers aren't good enough out of the box. I prefer to avoid the hassle of having a brand-new gun worked on, if possible. Kimber Series II are just right-out.

From what I've read (e.g. Stephen Camp's review), the DW Patriot is probably the cheapest I could go and still be happy. Unfortunately, nobody around here has one that I know of, and my dealer thinks DW is still "flaky."

Out of the 1911's I've handled, the Baer's gave me the warm & fuzzies while thinking "Yes! This gun is SO right!"

But I haven't actually SEEN a Valtro, Rock River, or STI either.


January 6, 2003, 08:40 PM
If you can afford a Baer then by all means buy it. They are worth every cent. If you buy a Baer and don't like it resale value will be very good, same thing if your tastes change and you want something else. You will not get the percentage of money back out of a used something else unless it is on par with the Baer and you paid accordingly. On the other side of that coin is actually selling one, they are darn hard to move simply because the market of people willing to spend that kind of money on a 1911 is very small (if you had not guessed that from the responses so far LOL).

I have shot the Premier II on a couple occasions and it simply tops EVERY other 1911 I have ever laid my hands on, including Wilson, Brown, STI, C&S, and other VERY expensive full custom jobs, in form and accuracy. Function of all the high line stuff is so good I don't think you can compare them.

January 6, 2003, 09:41 PM
Just an Idea but how about www.dawsonprecision.com
again, just an idea

Al in Md
January 6, 2003, 10:07 PM
Zak, Sounds to me like you really want the Baer. GO FOR IT. I bought a Baer Prem. II for my first 1911 pistol. My second 1911 was a Thunder Ranch I purchased 1 week ago. Consider this a warning! Al in Md.

Zak Smith
January 6, 2003, 10:14 PM
SCarruth. Thanks for the link to Dawson. I've seen the STI web-site, and Stephen Camp's review of one (or two?) of his STI's. I missed looking at it when my shop had some odd STI compact in stock.

All the Dawson Precision guns were over $1700, though. I figure I can get the TRS for less than $1450 out the door (not sure- my price list's at work).


January 6, 2003, 10:20 PM
I just thought that since you're willing to spend $1500 then why not go all the way and get a Dawson. The TRS is no slouch but Dawson guns are (my experience) superior.Whatever you get I know you will enjoy. Good shooting

Jim Watson
January 6, 2003, 11:06 PM
Go for it, Zak.
If you don't, no matter how good a Brand X you get, you will always wish you had bought the Baer.
I know.
I have bought "nearly as good for less money" several times... and still gone back and got what I really wanted in the first place. So it was false economy.

January 7, 2003, 06:58 PM
Yes, it takes about $750 to get a gun as good as Baer (to shoot as good).

Get a slightly used entry level Kimber full size for $500-$550. Get a good smith to fit the match bushing and link. And if you want to, get him to install the trigger, hammer and sear of you choice and do a trigger job. You got to know the right smith.

OTOH, you can spend $1500 and keep seeing L.B.s ugly mug in all the magazines, and also see Klint Smith endorsing his products any chance he gets.

Kahr carrier
January 8, 2003, 06:56 AM
Heck go for it ,Ive been drooling over the LES BAER for months,but I also like the VALTRO hard choice.:evil:

January 8, 2003, 07:52 AM
If you have the bucks, and that is really what you want then go for it and enjoy.

January 8, 2003, 10:36 AM
You can get a 1911 for around $750. But with the Baer (or Wilson, Brown, Dawson, etc.) you're paying for tool steel lockworks (not MIM), a better fitted barrel, a little bit nicer fit and finish, and a better chance (I said better not absolute) of reliability out of the box. Baer and the higher end guns just have better quality control than the cheaper mass-produced 1911s. Sometimes you can get a problematic gun in a Baer and get a fine mass-produced gun from Kimber or SA. The chances are just better of getting a good gun from Baer.

I think that the Baer PII is actually a better buy than the TR because of the ambi-safety (if you decide to compete someday with the gun it will be useful). Anyway, they are the same gun with the exception of a few features.

January 8, 2003, 11:32 AM
The only thing wrong with (Baer/Wilson/Brown/Valtro/Springfield Custom/ et al.) is that they are super addictive.

Not only do they make you want more, but all of a sudden the 'regular' 1911s around the house don't look like guns any more, but rather blank canvasses for customizing. :o :eek:

January 8, 2003, 12:32 PM
Just get it. You will save money in the long run. After years of horse trading I had a safe full of Sigs. I had tried 1911s and been disappointed with them. Then I bought my first Baer 1911. Now the Sigs are gone and I have a safe full of Baers! There is nothing better than a top of the line 1911. Unfortunately a lot of lesser quality 1911s have problems. You will not regret the Baer purchase, especially in the TRS format. Watch-Six

January 9, 2003, 02:04 AM
Listen to Tamara and Watch-Six. Especially Tamara. She's absolutely correct on this issue.

Get the Baer. It's a bargain when you consider what it is and how it's built.

Then, since you will find there's NOTHING to do to the Baer (except burn a few cases of .45 ammo through it), and at least some of the fun of belonging to the Cult of the 1911 is tinkering with the thing, buy an inexpensive Mil-spec Springfield as a hobby gun.

And then get a Brownell's catalog.


January 9, 2003, 04:24 AM
Well, I have the Valtro and I could not be happier.

I had a hard time getting it and the wait almost killed me. I nearly wavered and bought an STI Trojan instead.

Now, I got nothing against the Trojan, its a fine gun by all accounts - but I was sold on the Valtro and if I had gotten even a Wilson or Baer, I would still be wistfully wanting a Valtro.

If you are sold on the Baer, get it. Personally, I think that once you get into the Wilson/Baer/Valtro/Clark territory, it is much less about who is best (they all are) and much more about how much $$$ and what features are you getting.

I would say give the Valtro a look, but thats just because I love mine so much and I was on a tight budget (under $1500).

Tamara is right about mundane guns - although my Valtro has made me feel like there is nothing left to see in autoloaderville so I am really hot to get more revolvers...

Whatever you do, enjoy the ride and do not settle.

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