A simple 1911 Question


April 23, 2003, 10:45 AM
It's time for me to feed the 1911 need once again. My $1000.00 Kimber was not reliable so I'm upping the ante. Here are the beasts I'm considering:

Wilson Tactical Super Grade:


Les Baer Premium II Super Tac:

Ed Brown Classic Custom:

I'm choosing between these three, so please don't throw out Valtro, Colt or other options like "build your own". Money is not a consideration and it'w worth it to me to spend it once and have what I want rather than to have to keep revisiting the issue.

The pistol will become my primary carry/competition pistol.

Thanks all.


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Sean Smith
April 23, 2003, 10:57 AM
Of those three, Ed Brown. None of them are junk by any stretch of the imagination, but most people who have been exposed to all three seem to think Ed Brown is the nicest of the bunch.

My only suggestion would be that for the same price, you could have a pistolsmith build you exactly what you want. For the $3,000+ we are talking about, why settle for the cookie-cutter features that somebody else thinks you should have, when you can have a pistolsmith make you EXACTLY what you want in every respect?

Of course, I'm a picky bastard. :evil:

April 23, 2003, 11:13 AM
Having shot and handled guns from all of the manufactures listed I would say Ed Brown. Little closer to a custom gun than the rest.

April 23, 2003, 11:19 AM
Well, since the "Get a Glock" crowd hasn't hit yet, I'll do the honors :D

Seriously, of your options, go w/ the Ed Brown ;)

April 23, 2003, 11:38 AM
KMKeller, each of the three in its own right is a superb pistol. IMO the fit and finish of these 1911's are superior to any other limited production high-end handgun.

It is my subjective opinion, based upon my personal experience, that I consider Ed Brown's precsion craftsmanship to be a level beyond the Baer or Wilson regardless of model 1911.

This is not to denegrade Baer or Wilson It is just that I find Ed Brown Products to demonstraste a level of function and beauty that sets it apart from the other high-end 1911's.

As a matter of fact, a Brown along with a custom pistolsmith made Colt Commander are the two "keepers" I am retaining as I dispose of the others in my collection.

Good luck with your choice. You will not go wrong with any of these fine pistols.

April 23, 2003, 12:04 PM
I'm voting with Ed Brown also. I want one so bad I can hardly stand it....budget restrictions won't allow it for now.

I have never actually touched a Baer, only know them by reputation.

Have shot and admired others Ed Brown's, absolutely beautiful guns that perform.

Have shot others Wilson's and have known several who had them. The ones that worked were fantastic, but I have known some people that have had problems with them. Some were remedied. One was not.


April 23, 2003, 12:23 PM
This is interesting. I figured the battle to be between the Les Baer and the Ed Brown, but baer is falling significangly behind so far. Any insight as to why?

April 23, 2003, 12:32 PM
Ugh...ambi-safeties on all. Get a glock...did I just say that?

April 23, 2003, 01:20 PM
KMKeller, I would like to respond to your last post. Before I do, I want to say to one and all, I am NOT starting a flame. I say this because I believe Baer owners to be the most vociferous of gun owners. Their love of their guns sometimes approach the illogic.

I own three Les Baer pistols. Today, each is a fine, reliable and accurate 1911 pistol. Each one has a visual beauty that is exceptional. However, they share a similar "fault" which I attribute to all NIB Les Baer pistols.

Baer guns when new are simply too tight! This is my opinion. Many believe the tighteness to indicate exceptional quality. IMO, no handngun should be as tight as the new Bear pistols are and because of this, I would not carry any of my three when new.

Les Baer pistols take a long break in period, shooting at least 1000 rounds before they break-in. Rather than shoot all of that ammo, I chose to have a pistolsmith work on my new Baers to make them function without my having to apply excessive strength racking, disassembling and reassembling. Once my Baer pistols became easier to rack, etc., I felt safe carrying them.

I like the material, look and operating function of Les Baer pistols. That is why I own them. However, I do consider them simply to be too tight when new.

My Brown and Wilson, while tight, were never what I considered to be unsafe right out of the box.

April 23, 2003, 01:25 PM
Well said, and nice pistol!

April 23, 2003, 02:25 PM
Ed Brown!

April 23, 2003, 02:38 PM
Bummer about your $1000 Kimber. The Kimber you sold me is still running great. :)

I do not own examples of any of these, but I've been able to handle and use all of these as they are owned by other local IDPA guys.

I would get the Brown.

I'll agree with shepsan, the Baers are super tight. It is a selling point for them, but I find that one some you need to actually press the muzzle against a table or something to break enough tension to rack it. Goregous guns though.

I've played with a couple of Wilsons, and they were really nice guns too.

But I got to play a bit with an Ed Brown bobtail, and it was one of the prettiest guns I've ever held. Check out his snake skin treatment he offers instead of checkering. It is very effective.

Plus I met him at SHOT show. Seemed like a really nice guy.

April 23, 2003, 02:40 PM
You kill me Larry. Glad that puppy is still working great.:D I just couldn't get past the initial problems no matter how many rounds I put through it. Couldn't trust it for defense.:( For a comp gun? Different matter. Always ran like a top with ball ammo. Of course it goes to figure after I trade it to you, I get an urge to start competing. :rolleyes:

If I do get the Brown, it will have the snakeskin and a mag well added, most surely.

April 23, 2003, 03:38 PM
Just a "feel" thing, but Ed Brown seems more like a custom handcrafted gunsmith operation, while the other two seem more like premium brands. Maybe it's just packaging and advertising, maybe it's the shotguns and AR15s. It just strikes me that the Ed Brown people are offering a little more heart. Same with Nowlin and Clark.

April 23, 2003, 03:47 PM
As part of my search, I emailed Ed Brown asking about warrantees. He said that, like most other custom guns, there is no paper warranty, but that he stands behind his products 100%. From him, that's all the warranty I'd need.

Okay, we're leaning towards the Ed Brown now. So tell me, why not the Wilson?

Oh and on the Les Baer issue of tightness, I have a friend who picked up a LB Concept IV for very cheap. He bought it at a shop on consignment knowing that the slide was somehow locked up. He took a look at it, pressed the muzzle against the table and pressed *POP*. Gun had been shot dry and was super tight. Paid his paltry fee and went about his business. Took it home, cleaned and lubed it, and it's his bullseye pistol. Has never failed once.

April 23, 2003, 04:48 PM
Well, if you've got the cash to spend, then go for the Brown out of those listed. On the other hand, anytime you buy a high end gun and don't supply the frame, the gun costs you 11% more than it would have if you had provided the base gun or the frame due to the smith becoming the manufacturer.

One of the nicest, smoothest and best handling guns I've ever shot was a Colt 1991A1 (ugly rollmark) worked over by Wilsons. The owner paid $400 for the gun, about $1000 to Wilson. It had all new machined internals, reliability job, barrel to slide and slide to frame fit work, new sights, great trigger, 6 magazines and had it blued instead of parkerized. Beautiful gun for $1,400. I thing it's almost impossible to buy a comparable gun for the money. STI Trojan or Rock River would be close but then there's about an 18 month wait on the Rock River 1911s right now.

If I were in the market for a high end 5" 1911, I'd buy a new rollmark 1991A1 and send it to Ned Christiansen. I'd be willing to bet that for less than half the cost of the Wilson you list would get a far superior product and it would be a one of a kind custom piece.

Country Boy
April 23, 2003, 05:16 PM
Excuse me while I wipe the drool from my keyboard...

April 23, 2003, 05:22 PM
Why an off-the-rack pistol at that price point? For 3 Grand you could have a custom piece from pretty much any top smith in the country. It just seems a shame to spend like that and end up with anything less than a 100% personal one-of-a-kind weapon. Any reason the custom route is not on the table?

- Gabe

April 23, 2003, 05:32 PM
I had thought these were all sub-$2K weapons.

April 23, 2003, 09:01 PM
Wilson Tactical Super Grade retails at $3,500.

- Gabe

April 24, 2003, 06:35 AM
OK... Minor confession. I do plan to have a smith make me a one of a kind uber personal gun. But this is not it. My goal here, with the topic of this thread is a production pistol that runs flawlessly.

The custom gun I'm looking at will be mostly likely be a Caspian Damascus slide on an Ed Brown frame with the snakeskin treatment. Internals are undecided at current, but will probably be Ed Brown and Wilson. But that's later and another thread...:D

April 24, 2003, 07:04 AM
No vote - - side bar - -
Don't mean to hijack the thread but,,,

as a primary carry is it wise to have all those protruding levers and parts?

All 3 look more like range guns than carry guns.

- pressed for a "vote", I'd go with the Brown simply because it doesn't have front serrations.

April 24, 2003, 07:52 AM
?? I'm not sure I follow your question Hal. If you mean the ambidextrous safety, I'd say yes as it makes it much more useful weak handed. Otherwise I don't quite get your point.

April 24, 2003, 09:21 AM
Got it, KM. :)

Now I really reeeeeeally hate you.


- Gabe

April 24, 2003, 09:52 AM
Gabe: You can come over and shoot either pistol any time you want to.:p I had a good month and expect a bonus check that's pretty substantial. Otherwise either would be off limits. I'm taking a chunk of the bonus and putting in my gun budget for the year and have thought about the pistols I want. Could always buy an HK Mark 23, but have a greater yearning for 1911s at the moment although I do thoroughly believe both are excellent weapons (Yes boats, you can love both.. say it with me now, "Guns good"). I learned to shoot on the .45 and have always loved them. Besides, I've got two HKs and no 1911s. I'm just trying to balance things out...

I also plan to buy a .308 battle rifle of some sort, but again, that's another thread. Correia, any opinions there?

Now close your eyes and picture a Damascus slide and hammer with the slide snakeskinned. That is going to be something gorgeous...:D

April 24, 2003, 12:16 PM

Thanks for the invite! May take you up on that some day.

You're doing the right thing with the 1911's. The SOCOM is supposed to be a beast and a half.

For a battle rifle, look no further than DSArms and the FAL!

Get that and you will join the ranks of the eternally despised. :)

- Gabe

April 24, 2003, 12:24 PM
Gabe. I've been eyeballing the DSAs with some alacrity. They do appear quite desirable.

April 24, 2003, 12:26 PM

I think Hal was just looking at the pictures and noting all the sharp edges, like on the adjustable sights, and the rather long safety levers and the extended slide release and wondering if any of that is good for a concealed carry gun.

I don't imagine, in the age of "meltdowns", he's alone in thinking that.

But they do seem like nice competition pistols that wouldn't let you down if you carried them.

April 24, 2003, 12:34 PM
Handy - Thanks I believe you're right. I won't be getting target sights on the pistol I choose. The Wilson is designed as a carry/combat pistol and has a contour job on it that the other two don't. I don't think it would really bother me not having a contour job (I currently carry an HK USP .45c) but it can be an added feature.

Sean Smith
April 24, 2003, 01:34 PM
For the curious:

Wilson Tactical Super Grade: $3,495
Ed Brown Classic Custom: $2,895+
Les Baer Premier II SuperTac: $1,998

I had a Delta Elite customized by Dane Burns, and it set me back about $2,000 all-in (base gun, parts & labor). My second Delta Elite is being customized by Dave Berryhill, and is looking to be about the same. You can knock maybe $200 off that by using a more common .45 as a base gun, and of course you can always add more features if you want to spend money. Full-on pistolsmith custom jobs from scratch are typically $3,000+, and mean waiting anywhere from months to years for the finished product, depending on what their backlog looks like. Good luck if you want a Heinie! :eek:

I'm not sure how much you can mix & match features on the Ed Brown Classic Custom, but I know you can get all kinds of different combinations of stuff on his Class A Limited. Add smaller "tactical" thumb safeties and lo-mount sights and you'd be in business.

April 24, 2003, 01:56 PM
I'm changing my vote to Les Baer. If these are truly 3 comparable guns, there is no comparison if one is $1K less. Money might not be the biggest issue, but value is value.

April 24, 2003, 02:56 PM
Ahh... .308 battle rifles. Now you are getting into something that I know about. :)

I'm a FAL person. But it really depends on what fits you the best. You need to head on over the Rifles, grab a drink and pull up a seat. Prepare for lots of reading.

And I love Damascus slides. They are goregous.

George Hill
April 24, 2003, 03:02 PM
Voted Brown.
But I have two words for you:

Tussy Custom

April 24, 2003, 03:16 PM
George - I've seen Tussey's (Terry) work. His little Tussey Deep Cover with the Damascus slide is stunning.

Mike Irwin
April 24, 2003, 03:47 PM
D. None of the above.

I've seen the Brown and the Baer.

Nice guns.

But in my opinion you can do just as much for a lot less money.

One of the Sprinfield Loadeds is an excellent, and much less expensive, alternative.

April 24, 2003, 03:56 PM
One of the Sprinfield Loadeds is an excellent, and much less expensive, alternative.Phew! That's what I can afford, so that's what I'm doin'!

I don't want any of those stinkin' expensive wussy pistols anyway!

- Gabe

PS: well...maybe I want them a leeeetle bit.

April 24, 2003, 04:41 PM

I've looked at them and do admit to having warm fuzzies about a couple of models... but there is a method to my madness here. Bear with.


Sean Smith
April 24, 2003, 05:16 PM
Aside from the inferior parts, materials, accuracy, reliability, durability, and workmanship, I agree that an SA Loaded is comparable to a Ed Brown. :D

By and large, if you can't tell the accuracy difference between a SA Loaded and an Ed Brown, you need to practice more. Some factory guns are very accurate, but many of them stink.

Now a Professional Model would be a different story...

April 24, 2003, 06:01 PM
The professional is the one I had warm fuzzies for...

April 24, 2003, 09:38 PM
Yup, Handy nailed it.
All three look like they may have a lot of things that could hang up on a carry type gun.

April 25, 2003, 12:02 AM
I'd go for the Ed Brown pistol, but I might go with fixed sights because adjustables can be hard on clothes and flesh.

April 28, 2003, 11:34 AM
I have to admit to some surprise here. I expected the results of this little experiment to be somewhat different.

The Ed Brown is the runaway winner with the Wilson in second... I expected Wilson to be a distant third with the main battle between Baer and Brown.

Now all I need to do is digest what I've learned here and formulate my purchasing decision.

Thanks everyone who participated. I appreciate it.


Mike Irwin
April 28, 2003, 04:04 PM
"Aside from the inferior parts, materials, accuracy, reliability, durability, and workmanship, I agree that an SA Loaded is comparable to a Ed Brown."

Did I say comparable? No. The price differential MORE than kills any comparability issues. :D

By "you can do just as much" means that you can send bullets down range, and with the Springfield Loadeds I've shot, they lose NOTHING in accuracy to the Brown or Baer that I've shot.

Workmanship and Parts? Geez, you think you can compare the workmanship of a factory gun with that of a virtually hand made gun? Parts are the same issue, factory production vs. hand crafted.

Reliability? The Springfield Loadeds I've worked with have all been exceptionally reliable. No great difference there.

Durability? I've not run a Loaded through the wringer, but I seriously doubt that durability will be a long-term issue.

If my MilSpec is any indication, long-term durability is going to be more than fine. I'm at roughly 12,000 rounds through my MilSpec at this point with no parts breakages, no parts replacements and, if I keep it clean and lubricated and have my loading dies set properly (all have been issues with me... :) ), it's been extremely reliable, even with open-nose hollowpoints.

No doubt about it, the custom jobs get high marks for workmanship, accuracy, reliability, etc.

But good lord, the cost....

April 28, 2003, 05:00 PM

I don't see how you can put up with the high cost of the SA Loaded. Have you looked at Charles Daly?:D


Forget Brown, get the Daly.;)

Sean Smith
April 28, 2003, 05:18 PM
Chucky D's are extravagant. Get a used Auto-Ordinance and a can of Rustoleum. :D

April 28, 2003, 05:55 PM
Big spender. I've just been building a nice 1911 up by crawling through AMT's dumpster after hours.

Jamie B
April 28, 2003, 06:11 PM
I would purchase the BCP Grey Ghost @ $2700.
Fantastic looking pistol! Custom built by Dane Burns.

Features as follows:

The gun is stainless...then hard chromed for wear and durability. But any of the better black finishes will do also.
Cone stainless barrel, unramped, flush crowned with slide and a .55" inside dia at the bore. And it looks it!
Titanium full length 2 piece guide rod and a hard chromed 360 degree reverse collar support plug.
Heinie Straight Eight sights with a .110" front blade.
CMC beavertail and tool steel, match grade hammer, and sear.
Titanium cap and strut.
AFTEC extractor.
Vedecki trigger (solid pictured, speed optional).
Colt slide release.
Brown stainless thumb safety (ambi optional).
Stainless hex head screws.
Wolfe springs.
Brown steel main spring housing with 25 lpi serrations.
Front strap serrations @ 25 lpi (any size checkering is of course optional).
Back of slide serrated @ 50 lpi (serrations and/or flat on slide top optional).
A VERY HEAVY overall melt of the gun.
BCP complete reliability package.
Front cocking serrations removed at customer's request (as pictured).
Bead blasted and melted.
Carbon fiber double diamond grips

Just my opinion!


April 28, 2003, 06:48 PM
Sorry, I won't spend a plug nickle on anything from Dane Burns.

Sean Smith
April 28, 2003, 08:30 PM
Sorry, I won't spend a plug nickle on anything from Dane Burns.

Based on what? I owned a gun he worked on, and it was great. Arguably better than any of the options in this poll, and it "only" cost me $2,000 all-in (gun, parts & labor). Nice guy to deal with, too.

April 29, 2003, 07:48 AM
My reasons are my own and I'll not discuss them on a public forum. Dane Burns, for me, is off limits.

Further, I stated in the first post of this thread; I'm choosing between these three, so please don't throw out Valtro, Colt or other options like "build your own". How hard is it to follow that rather simple request?

April 29, 2003, 11:16 AM

I guess it's not that simple a request when you want people to compare, without reference to other guns, 3 pistols that range in price by $1500.:what:

At least when someone wants to compare two absurdities, like a Benelli target pistol and a Delta Elite, they are in the same price range.

How did you come up with comparing a Baer and a Brown when you could buy a Baer and a Sig 210 for the cost of the Brown?

In the end, your "simple question" demands that posters tell you to spend wisely, or extravagantly. Neither option leads you to the "best" choice.

On the back side of that, if you truly believe the three choices are completely comparable, why would you be so incredibly foolish to throw away $1500 on the most expensive one?

In summary, what the hell are you really asking?

April 29, 2003, 01:39 PM

If you'll notice, I put nothing forward about price whatsoever, other than it was not a consideration. I wanted each to be judged/recommended on it's own merits of lack thereof and comparability between the three weighed. I wanted to see what the majority of folks here would choose given the options.

I outlined very clearly what I wanted in the opening post and my choice was very clearly between three "top of the line" semi production pistols by very well known smith houses. Did you bother to think that perhaps I was trying to figure out why there was such a large cost disparity between the three given that they are quite probably extremely close in quality? That maybe inserting price into the issue would skew the results?

I asked people to look objectively at three pistols and let me know what they thought. Opinion and experience was all that was in play and a choice between three items is a choice between three items.

That, in a nutshell, is "what the hell" I was asking.

Your flame is neither warranted nor welcome.

April 29, 2003, 01:59 PM
It wasn't a flame.

After 3 pages, I was hoping you'd reveal the secret "method to [your] madness".

My last post was intended to explain that there seems to be little connection between those three, unless you don't actually get a $1500 spread in parts or craftmanship.

My other purpose was to point out that your data, from this poll, is suspect because no one is going to seperate price, since price should dictate quality from custom gun makers.

"Top of the line from three manufacturers" they might be, but Chevy, Acura and Rolls Royce all offer "top of the line" vehicles.

My own initial post was colored by such sentiment. I felt that the Brown was a little more "custom", but assumed it was priced in line with the other two. But it isn't nearly so.

So, feel like revealing the mystery?

April 29, 2003, 02:07 PM
This thread has outlived its useful life. :)

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