Auto Ordinance (kahr) 1911s


Andrew Wyatt
July 1, 2003, 06:32 PM
Are these decent guns for the money? are the frames decent and within spec? they're relatively inexpensive, and i'm considering getting one to build a carry gun out of, since i can't buy bare frames in california.

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July 1, 2003, 07:45 PM
The new Auto Ord's are supposedly better than the older ones. I have read several good reviews and only a few bad reviews. The new ones that I have seen in person ranged from terrible to good in terms of fit and finish. You might be far better served by buying a Springfield Armory 1911. They are made with forged receivers and slides and are usually quite good pistols.

Sean Smith
July 1, 2003, 08:46 PM

Andrew Wyatt
July 1, 2003, 08:51 PM
what parts are junk? do they have oodles of mim parts?

I'm mostly asking if the parts that i can't fix are right, like the locations of the holes in the frame, and whatnot.

i don't really expect it to run right out of the box, since i'm going to do a bunch of work to it anyway.

Sean Smith
July 1, 2003, 08:54 PM
Frame and slide are low-grade castings. Junk parts, from the pins to the front sight. You could melt it down for a paperweight that might make a good blunt weapon.

Now, if you are doing the work yourself, and want something to learn on that you don't mind destroying, then it is fine for that. For a custom gun you would actually shoot on purpose, it is crap. Just my opinion, but you would be insane to try to make a real weapon out of one. If you shop around, you can find SA Milspecs or basic Colt 1991A1 guns that are very reasonably priced and have forged frames and slides. There are very economical weapons out there that are quite good (CZ-75B for $350 comes to mind), but the Auto-Ord ain't it.

July 1, 2003, 11:32 PM
I'm with Sean, on this one. I've owned two, 15 years apart. Both lasted less than a week in my safe.
The first one, first range session, 50-60 rounds in, I noticed my (fairly tight) 15 yard group beginning to walk to the right of the target. Closer inspection showed the rear sight had started to drift right, and my group followed it. I re- centered the sight with hammer and dowel, carried for the purpose of zeroing drift-adjustable sights, and continued to shoot, as I had brought 100 rds with me, and figured I might as well burn them up. Somewhere before the end of that second box of ammo, I suddenly had a single-shot pistol, as the extractor had disappeared:what: I mean vanished. It wasn't in/on the gun, I couldn't find it on the range, I consider myself lucky that one or more pieces didn't lodge themselves in parts of my anatomy. Truth is stranger than fiction.
Second one, early this year, I had heard good things about the Kahr/Auto-Ord, so picked one up. Again, first range session, before the end of the first box of ammo, FTF, about twice per mag. kept going, until it refuse to fire at all . I realized the hammer was falling to half-cock/safety notch, whatever, and not striking the firing pin. AHA! thought I wasn't depressing the grip safety fully, right? Wrong! After unloading, I pointed the empty pistol downrange with both thumbs squeezing the grip safety for all I was worth, and still couldn't make the hammer fall past half-cock. Took the pistol home, and spent the rest of the week attempting to call and e-mail kahr/Auto-Ord for assistance. Left three Phone messages for "the tech guy" and daily e-mails, none of which, to this day, have been returned. That Friday, I returned to the shop where I bought it, received a refund, and an apology from the guy i have been buying guns from since I was old enough to buy guns, and I now notice, he no longer stocks Kahrs/Auto-ord.:scrutiny:

July 2, 2003, 12:16 AM
1911s all look the same when first taken out of the box. But when you start actually doing gunsmithing work on a cheap one, you'll then see things that had first escaped your inspection. Things like slide locking lugs that are cut off-center, making it impossible to properly fit a match barrel. Holes that are drilled at an angle, so that you'll never get a good trigger job unless you re-cut the hammer hooks at the same weird angle. Tooling marks so deep the parts grate back and forth rather than slide with silky smoothness. Auto Ordinance can build workable guns, but their quality control is so erratic it's a crapshoot at best.

July 2, 2003, 09:09 AM
Gotta go with dsk on this one. I've got an older AO...mid 80's
production, that is very good, and an upgrade with good small
parts will be about all that it needs. Even the two-piece barrel
is good on this one, and the gun locks up like a good Gold Cup.
Accuracy is outstanding, and reliability is flawless.

Now, for the rest of the story...

The really good ones are the exception. Since I haven't handled a
Kahr produced 1911, I can't give a truthful judgement call on them, but
the things that I've heard aren't good.

If you're a fledgling smith or talented tinkering addict, you can learn
much from an AO...If you can get it to run, you can likely
get ANYthing to run. Make sure the price is right before you take one
on, though...about 150 bucks is a good target to shoot for, and a slide
and barrel replacement will be necessary about 7 out of 10 times from the git-go.

The frames seem to be up to heavy use, but even a slide that is in spec
will break through from the port to the rail within 10,000 rounds in
most of them...and 15,000 is about the limit on all that I've been involved with.

I understand that since their major parts vendor (Essex) has much
improved, the angled pin holes and off-center lug recesses in the
slide isn't an issue any more. Barrels and small parts are still pretty
much scrap metal.


Andrew Wyatt
July 2, 2003, 12:35 PM
essex makes their frames? that's funny. I was going to buy an essex frame to build a 1911 on, but we can't buy bare frames in california for the children.

so, basically, an auto ordinance is an overpriced california legal slide and frame?

July 2, 2003, 01:18 PM
Yup...last I heard, Essex was casting frames and slides for Dan Wesson
1911's too....and there's an odd thing about those DW 1911's.

The Commander-length frames are nothing more than the GM frames
with a shortened dust cover. The rail length is the same. I don't
know if they modify the slide to make up for the reduced slide travel,
but the frames are the same in that area.

I've built up a couple of pistols on Essex frame/slide sets, and have
had very good results.



July 3, 2003, 07:43 AM
I heard and looks verify this....Wesson before they did the patriot, which is forged frame and slide, were getting the frames and slides from S&W...much like Kimber and Bear have done for years............
Shoot well

Al Thompson
July 3, 2003, 07:56 AM
I thought Baer made their own frames/slides. Did you mean Wilson?

July 3, 2003, 11:37 AM
AFAIK Kimber, S&W, Wilson, and Dan Wesson get their frames and slides from the same source, which used to be called Jericho but I'm not sure what it is now. Les Baer has their own source, which Ed Brown uses as well. None of the manufacturers actually make the raw forgings in-house as it obviously requires a foundry. However, most usually do their own machining of the raw forgings.

July 3, 2003, 01:39 PM

I talked to Gary Whipple at Essex a few weeks ago, and he said that
they were in the middle of a run for Dan Wesson. Maybe DWA gets
frames and slides from a couple sources.

So....I had to wait 10 days longer for my frames...:banghead:


July 3, 2003, 08:40 PM
DW uses cast frames and slides for their low end 1911's (pointman minor), forged parts in their high dollar 1911's.

Stainless Steel
July 3, 2003, 08:56 PM
Originally posted by Sniper
The Ultimate 1911

The Government Model industry was
shaken to its core by the introduction
last year of Kimber's 1911. Priced at a
mere $625...

...How Kimber, a name associated with high
grade hunting rifles, came to be in the 1911
business requires a little history lesson.
The story begins in Yonkers, N.Y., with a
company called Jerico Precision which was
founded in 1978 as a manufacturer of hand
tools and a subcontractor for various defense

The name Jerico comes from founders Jerry
Roman and the late Richard Brown, an acronym
for "Jerry and Richard's Company."

...Jerico needed two things: a market and
somebody who knew about 1911's.

The help they found turned out to be
businessman Leslie Edelman, owner of a
major firearms and accessory wholesale
company called Nationwide Sports, and
Chip McCormick who knows something
about 1911s. At the time, Edelman was a
minority shareholder of Kimber Of
America and his plan was to connect
Jerico's manufacturing capability with
Kimber's established dealer network.

The project began in the winter of 1994
and the prototypes of the "Kimber"
pistol were shown at the 1995 SHOT
Show. Controversy swirled around the
sample at the show, which were in fact
made by Caspian Arms with the serial
number and manufacturer's identity
hidden under the grip panels.

Then in late 1996 Edelman purchased Jerico
and changed the name to Kimber Manufacturing.
In April, 1997, Edelman closed Kimber's
riflemaking facility in Oregon and moved the
entire operation to Yonkers.

That's the history of how the Kimber 1911
came to be...

~ American Handgunner Sept/Oct 1997


July 4, 2003, 06:44 AM
Stainless Steel...THAT was a good info post. Thanks for takin' the time.


July 4, 2003, 09:09 PM
Its interesting that Andrew was asking about the new Kahr made Auto-Ordnance's yet all the responses he got refer to the Pre-Kahr 1911's. :confused: :rolleyes:

Heres a link to a review:

I am also interested in these FWIW. A couple people on seem to be very pleased with their POST-KAHR AOs...

Sean Smith
July 5, 2003, 10:02 AM
Its interesting that Andrew was asking about the new Kahr made Auto-Ordnance's yet all the responses he got refer to the Pre-Kahr 1911's.

Read closer. One of Para.2's junky AO's was made this year. :rolleyes:

And if you buy a gun rag review of a gun from one of their paid advertisers (and posted on , no less :rolleyes: ), I've got a bridge to sell you.

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