Review: Charles Daly EFS 1911-A1 Pistol


September 17, 2008, 10:58 AM
Review: Charles Daly EFS 1911-A1 Pistol
(Item# CDGR6002)

A confession from the start. I’m a HUGE fan of SIG and CZ pistols. As such I’ve never been overly fond of the 1911 as a practical carry or self-defense firearm. However the collector in my soul kept insisting that it was somehow “unamerican” that I didn’t have at least one 1911 somewhere in the stable. Well given that the gun was going to be a “safe and range queen” I wasn’t going to spend a lot of money on this new toy so initially I went with a Taurus PT-1911. (semi-review here: ).

Nothing wrong with it operationally but somehow it never quite “clicked” with me and over time (and after trouble with multiple other Taurus guns) I discovered that the gigantic TAURUS billboard on the slide went from barely noticably to a major irritation every time I looked at the gun so in the end I sold it and went back to looking for a low cost, full size, 1911 with an ambi-safety (hey, I shoot with BOTH hands, what can I say).

Last night my search ended with a NIB Charles Daly EFS 1911-A1. Picked it up, racked the slide, and it just “clicked” (you gunnies know what I mean), something just felt right. So I let it follow me home and, as is my usual habit, laid out all of my cleaning stuff and did a complete detail takedown of the firearm so that I could clean out the packing lube, inspect the internals, and relube with my favorite stuff (WeaponShield).

EDIT: Warning, I'm about to be super-critical but don't read too much into it. I'm not pretending that the CD is a custom Ed Brown, I'm just pointing out the issues or potential issues I found on this specific gun but NONE of them were "show stoppers" and most could be safely ignored if you weren't super fussy like me <grin>.

The gun looked VERY GOOD externally. The wooden grips were nice (certainly nicer than the plastic Taurus grips) and the external machining and finish were very nice. I would prefer some checkering on the frontstrap but I’ll probably take care of that with a few small strips of grip tape. Impressed so far I start the detailed take-down of the entire gun.

The ambi-safety was press fitted VERY tightly and hard to remove. It required a thin bladed pry tool and a a deft touch to get the left side safety loose without damaging the finish (NOTE: on this model the right side of the safety is held in by the sear pin and can only be removed after the left side is out).

To my astonishment the first thing I discovered was a fine patina of surface rust ALL OVER the inside of the slide.

There was no damage to the metal and the rust was easily wiped off with Gunzilla (though it took a couple of rags before things stopped coming out “rusty” colored) but it was disturbing to find on a NIB gun. The “dust cover” part of the frame and the inside of the magazine well also had this same fine patina of rust as did the sear spring. These elements also cleaned up easily.

The barrel, firing pin & spring, and barrel bushing were all fine. The rust was not a huge issue but I would strongly encourage a full takedown/cleaning to anyone buying this gun as the packing lube had obviously failed to completely protect the pistol internally.

I had a related, and slightly more serious, rust issue with the bottom left grip screw. It was rusted firmly in place and took Kroil and some heat to break it loose. I had a few nervous moments wondering if I was going to bung up the screw or break it off and I managed to slightly bend a screw bit but I did finally get it loose though and after that the screw and hole were easily cleaned up.

Overall the internal machining for frame and slide were very clean. A few tool marks and a couple of small burrs that I knocked off with a stone but it was all pretty clean and well into “acceptable” territory. Not SIG level work but certainly better than my Taurus PT-1911 looked when I got into it for the first time. One interesting thing was that the channel for the trigger was kind of rough. Not the machining of the metal itself, more like an “orange peel” effect in the finishing. Stoning cleaned it right out with little effort and produced a significant improvement in the feel of the trigger as it slid in that channel.

The edges of the firing pin stop’s hole were rough enough that I felt it could possibly interfere with the firing pin at some point. A quick chamfer of the holes fixed that issue.

The extractor fit was EXTREMELY tight and I had to stone a couple of small high spots in the finish of the extractor pin before the extractor would slide back into place. The hole in the slide itself was machined perfectly and gave me no trouble.

There was a small burr on the top of the “U” part of the recoil spring guide (the part that rests against the barrel). It probably would have worn off immediately with use but I stoned it smooth since I was already working on the internals.

There was a lot of machining “filings” and grit down at the bottom of the Mainspring housing. It wasn’t much work to clean that out (compressed air, Gunzilla, and q-tips) but I was annoyed that the crap was there and it might have bound up the hammer spring (or worn it excessively) over time.

Re-Assembly went smoothly and without issue. Once re-assembled the gun hand-functioned smoothly with the safety and trigger showing crisp precision in operation. Snap cap testing showed a noticable improvement (less “crunch”) in the trigger (though one could still wish for an overtravel adjustment screw).

Summary: After reading my nit-pick above you may be thinking "whew, what a piece of junk". Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes there are some detail elements that could be executed better but none of them really affect operation and overall I am VERY impressed at the quality and workmanship on a pistol in this price range.

Yes there were a few tweaks I performed but to be blunt they were done because I'm just that sort of exacting person not because there were any major flaws in the firearm.

Tonight I’ll take it to the range and run 100-200 rounds through it. Once I’ve done so I’ll report back on function.

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September 17, 2008, 12:48 PM
Love my EFS. Shoots like a dream. Accruate as hell. Feeds all my reloads with no problem. SWC's, HP's and ball. It is my favorite gun.

September 17, 2008, 06:17 PM

September 17, 2008, 06:36 PM
Okay, I'm home from the range.

I shot 150 rounds...
-50 Blazer FMJ
-50 Cor-Bon DPX
-50 Winchester Ranger JHP

The gun performed flawlessly and produced the following targets (note, targets are printed on a standard 8.5x11" sheet of paper).

Slow fire with carefully aimed shots at 21 ft.

Rapid fire defensive shooting at 50 ft

I really thought I'd have more to say about the gun given my extensive comments in part I but seriously the photos pretty much speak for themselves!
It's a NICE gun! If you want a nice and inexpensive 1911 this seems to be worth a try. :D

September 17, 2008, 07:18 PM
Thanks for the review.

September 18, 2008, 12:19 PM
I had a CD that I ended up trading years ago because I was cash poor. Wish I hadn't. As you said, the exterior fit and finish on them is very nice. The internals are not quite up to that level, but with a handfull of aftermarket internal parts, it could be a very fine gun. You don't get great internals also in their price range. What you do get is a nice looking pistola that shoots well. I think they are a good gun for the money. Many folks simply are not going to spend $800 up for a 1911. Some of us will, of course, but we love 1911's and can. A $1000 gun was simply out of my reach most of my life. :)

The Lone Haranguer
September 18, 2008, 10:40 PM
The rusting could have happened due to poor storage conditions somewhere along the distribution line, and/or from insufficient packaging preservative.

April 5, 2012, 08:09 AM

Sadly Charles Daly is no more, but there are a LOT of the pistols out there still so I thought I'd post a Long-term update for anyone interested.

It's been 4 years and the pistol has seen roughly 900-1000 rounds per year and it has ticked along without issue that entire time. The thin bluing has needed a touchup here and there and I just put in a new recoil spring as is my habit for any of my guns at 4-5k rounds.

This gun really has been one of those "just right" situations where it's not so "tight" that it is fussy on ammo but not so "loose" that accuracy suffers. I can still bounce 12ga hulls around a range at 20-25 yards with it.

The metal of it's construction IS still awfully rust-prone so I do have to maintain it with a bit of extra care and wipedown but that's just a minor note in the life of this gun.

In short, this gun has been worth every cent I spent on it. :)

April 5, 2012, 11:19 AM
Appreciate the follow up! Great report from start to finish.

April 14, 2012, 09:24 AM
I am glad to find this review as I am about to pick one up for a decent price. I was wary of it because I haven't found that many reviews but this kinda sealed the deal. Thanks.

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