Les Baer PII Range Report (Lots of Picts)


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Peter M. Eick
May 8, 2004, 01:24 PM
The subject of today’s report is a Les Baer Premier II in 45 ACP I acquired back in February of 1997. When I bought it, it was $1428 with 5 7 round magazines, case, zipper range pouch and the like. I later bought an additional 3 7 round magazines from Baer and will discuss them in more detail later.

I bought this pistol as my first 1911. My dealer said if I did not like it, the resale would be better then a Colt and it was at the time, the best I could get without going full custom. Not knowing a thing about 1911’s at the time, I had to take it back to the dealer to even learn how to strip it down. I really like 1911’s because of this gun and have never regretted it. The PII is on the bottom and my heavyweight monolith 1.5 in 10mm is on the top. I regret to say that Les Baer is no longer making 10 mm’s as reported in a post of the 1911forum.com. Really to bad because it is a great gun.

http://pages.sbcglobal.net/eickpm/big_baers.jpg

The gun has been shot a lot over the years, and I really like shooting it. This gun is dead reliable and always puts the brass in my brass catcher. It is bulletproof reliable, has great sights and always seems to draw a crowd at the range. It is very fun to shoot and defines smooth! Here is the LB PII 45 and CZ97b are shown on the bench.

http://pages.sbcglobal.net/eickpm/45atos.jpg

Here again is a shot of the results of today’s shooting. I ended up shooting 1909 rounds of 45acp today and another 200 rnds of 38special in my pre-war 38/44 heavy duty, but that is another review (along with the really really nice pre-25 Ben helped me out with. Thanks Ben).

http://pages.sbcglobal.net/eickpm/ammobag.jpg

As you can see in the shot above the brass catcher has a box of ammo in it because it was windy. That windy gusty day did not help my efforts shooting nor did not being out much this year so far help out either. Having spent a lot of the first half of the year working in China and Indonesia, I have let my shooting skills really lapse. Here is the layout of the shoot and the targets as setup.

http://pages.sbcglobal.net/eickpm/range_setup.jpg

http://pages.sbcglobal.net/eickpm/targets.jpg

The Premier II is absolutely factory stock and has not ever had anything done to it other then shoot it. I say this for the edification of those who believe that all 1911 and particularly Baer’s require a trip to some smith somewhere to be fixed or improved. This one is box (if you call Les’s shipping wedge a box) stock and ready to rock and roll!

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Peter M. Eick
May 8, 2004, 01:25 PM
I made the mistake of not buying enough of the original Les Baer magazines and ended up buying 3 more new ones a few years ago. Frankly I really like the old steel ones with the steel followers vs. the plastic followers. The new mags (shown below on the right and bottom) have a plastic follower and are distinctly lighter and have thinner metal. The older ones are easier to load, heavier, more solid and feel better in your hand. There is no difference functionally, both work 100%.

http://pages.sbcglobal.net/eickpm/lb_mags1.jpg
http://pages.sbcglobal.net/eickpm/lb_mags.jpg

The Premier II used to have very nicely engraved logo-grips (shown below) and a nicely checkered front strap (also shown below). I freely admit that the junk in the checkering is powder and residue that I had not yet gotten cleaned out of the grips. I was still in the process of cleaning the gun when I took these pictures.

http://pages.sbcglobal.net/eickpm/lb_grips.jpg
http://pages.sbcglobal.net/eickpm/lb_front.jpg

A nice thing about Les Baer guns is that nearly all parts are serial numbered to the gun. Here is a shot of some of the serial numbers. They are also found on the extractor, extractor stop, grips, trigger and beavertail but I have never removed some of those parts to prove that they exist there. I am trusting others comments. My PII has never been fully striped yet.

http://pages.sbcglobal.net/eickpm/lb_number.jpg

Finally here is the side shot to show the nice lettering on the side of the Baer.

http://pages.sbcglobal.net/eickpm/lb_side.jpg

Peter M. Eick
May 8, 2004, 01:26 PM
Today we fired from round 5585 to 6326 in the gun for 741 rounds fired. Not bad for the day but I admit I am paying the price for it now. The rounds fired were all reloads. Most were 230 grn Rem FMJ’s with 4.9 grns of bullseye, CCI300 primers and Starline brass. This chrono’s for 826 fps with a standard deviation of 9 on a 20 shot string out of my 35P chrono. Here is a picture of the PII in the results of the days shooting.

http://pages.sbcglobal.net/eickpm/lb_bag.jpg

The shooting results for the day are not the best out of the gun as conditions were working against the results. I did not measure the distance but I believe we were shooting at 10 yards today. My normal 15 yard range was being used by a bunch of shooters so I chose the first available reasonable target.

Here are 3 representative targets. I did not really cherry pick these out, they were just a few grabbed from the stack. Each target represents 50 rounds fired, so 8 mag changes, 7 rounds each. These were all shot relatively quickly, certainly not double taps, but not classical bullseye still shooting on the other hand.

http://pages.sbcglobal.net/eickpm/lb_targets.jpg
http://pages.sbcglobal.net/eickpm/lb_t1.jpg
http://pages.sbcglobal.net/eickpm/lb_t2.jpg
http://pages.sbcglobal.net/eickpm/lb_t3.jpg

As you can see from these targets, there is a bit of dispersion. Don’t blame that on the gun. In this case it was certainly me and the wind. Normally this gun and I can shoot about a 1 inch 50 shot grip at 10 m. I can really see the effect of not shooting a lot lately so it is my fault.

Status report:
Jams, failures problems? Absolutely none of course. The Les Baer PII is exceptionally reliable. My records show that the last jam occurred at round 1532, due to insufficient powder during a work up of Unique and 200 grn JHP’s. This was not the guns fault, the first starting load was not powerful enough to run the slide. It did jam the gun though. As I said before this is an exceptionally reliable gun and can take nearly any reasonable reload and fire it. If it can fit in the chamber it will fire, regardless!

Accuracy? Dang site better then I am. It is embarrassing to bench this gun because it does so well and shoots such a nice target I always wonder why I shoot so poorly. It is not a 1.5” guarantee gun, but it certainly would be close!

Trigger pull.
Single action 4 lbs 0.2 onz.
Single action has no take up and breaks very cleanly. There is no follow through or over-travel. Just a clean sharp break.

Action:
The slide racks very smoothly. The tight slide to rail fit is un-nerving even after 6000+ rounds it is still tight and smooth. Getting the slide on the rails is work because it has to be lined up just so and then it slides right on. The gun seems to work best when it has had about 300 to 500 rnds fired in it. I think the residue spreads around in the gun and then slicks it all up a bit. I maybe it is also that the gun heats up a bit. Who knows for sure, but I rarely shoot less then 300 rnds out of it in a session.

Overall impression
The Les Baer Premier II is a ever thing a semi-custom 1911 should be. Smooth, accurate, great trigger, tight, reliable and just fun to shoot. It is very nicely machined and it is very easy to clean and take down. I use a bushing wrench to take the spring plug out but after the slide is broken out of lockup the barrel bushing can be turned by hand but it is quite tight though. Thankfully there is no idiot mark yet, but not for lack of trying. The sights are real Bo-mars and are of course very good and give a nice sharp target view.

This gun is my favorite 45acp and it is just fun to sit at the range and plink away with it. Since it was my first 1911, and I had so much fun with it, I went back and wanted to buy another. The problem is when you get used to a Baer, you go back and pick up a production 1911 from some manufacturers and they seem so “crude” and sloppy. I don’t want to ruffle feathers, but the Baer is tight and has no give anywhere. Most of the 1911’s I have handled seem to have slide to rail play, barrel to slide play and in some cases even rattle when you shake them. This is why I have been buying more Baer’s. I think if you buy into the dogma of “tight is good” like I did, then anything else seems bad.

Final comment. Contrary to popular opinion of some, I hope this offers some testament that tight 1911’s can shoot reliably for reasonable strings of shots. I would consider 741 rounds fired in one day to be a reasonable string with no jams or problems. Remember “tight is good” and “tight is reliable”.

fnforme
May 8, 2004, 08:13 PM
Peter, thanks for the fantastic review. Yesterday a gentleman at the range let me shot a few mags through his Les Baer Custom Cary and his Ed Brown Kobra. The Ed Brown wins the beauty pagent, but the Baer was simply incredible. I shot a 1 inch group at 7 yards with 8 rounds the first time I picked up the gun! I'm not the best of marksman, so that was quite an accomplishment for me. It made the SIGs I was shooting seem so crude, which is VERY hard for any gun to do. Now if only I can sell a few guns maybe a Baer will be in my future :) . Once you shoot one there is no going back, the quality just doesn't compare to anything else. I always laughed at people who payed $2000 on a single handgun, I thought it was just a status symbol thing. But now I can honestly say it's worth it.

Black_Talon
May 8, 2004, 10:29 PM
Thanks for the nice article and all the cool pics! 1911 porn is hard to beat (so to speak)

I'd say that your original mags were made by Metalform and your second set are Wilsons.

Peter M. Eick
May 9, 2004, 10:18 AM
I bought both sets of mags from Baer directly. All of my other Baer mags are the early type (38 super and 10mm) and I was told they were metalform. I have no idea about the others. I have never handled a wilson mag.

Sean Smith
May 9, 2004, 11:30 AM
Final comment. Contrary to popular opinion of some, I hope this offers some testament that tight 1911’s can shoot reliably for reasonable strings of shots. I would consider 741 rounds fired in one day to be a reasonable string with no jams or problems. Remember “tight is good” and “tight is reliable”.

It is also true that some Baers to not run out of the box becuase they are too tight, as reported by Baer owners. They almost all break in nicely, however. And accuracy guaranteed guns from anybody are going to be tight (RRA comes to mind here).

-Signed, a fellow owner of tight (but not Baer) guns. :D

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