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Les Baer vs. Wilson Combat vs…

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by TheFederalistWeasel, Aug 26, 2003.

  1. Les Baer vs. Wilson Combat vs…

    Okay, I’m somewhat in the market for a nice .45 but for good reasons I’m still on the fence.

    The guns I am looking at are the Les Baer line and the Wilson Combat line, both in .45.

    Baer 1911 Custom Carry, 5", .45 ACP with night sights

    Baer 1911 Concept VIII, .45 ACP stainless with night sights

    From Wilson I am looking at

    The Protector in Stainless

    The Classic Stainless

    Main reason I am hesitant is the experience from a friends attempt to find a good flawless 1911 style .45, it was expensive and disastrous.

    He tried a nice high dollar Kimber and it was a jam-o-matic regardless of mags used and before the crowd begins to blame it all on limp wristing my friend has enough experience with many types of guns to overcome that.

    The next was a nice Springfield .45 which he had many hundreds of dollars of gun smithing done to just to over come the short falls of the Kimber but that too was a jam-o-matic.

    My friend now carries a HK USP Compact .45 and has had nary a peep out of it.

    Does anyone here have any experience with the Wilson or Les Baer line of guns, has anyone had ANY jams with them at all, regardless of what you were doing or what you were feeding it?

    I am a bit hesitant to plop down 1500 to 2500 dollar on a .45 only to have it jam often for whatever reason, before I’ll do that I’ll go and buy myself a Sig 220 stainless .45 which I know will function, and I would bet my life on.

    I’ve owned three Sig .45’s and have had not one single problem thru them and I’ve carried one as a duty weapon for 4.5 years as well.
  2. CWL

    CWL Well-Known Member

    If you trust SigSauer, stay with what you are familiar.

    If you want a semi-custom M1911 you cannot go wrong with either Les Baer or Wilson Combat. Hereabouts, the opinion is that Les Baer is better for competition use while Wilson Combat is better for carry.

    Please do a search as this "X v. Y" comparison has been discussed into the ground.
  3. Smoke

    Smoke Well-Known Member

    Only WIlson I've seen (not many around here) was a jam-o-matic. Owner sent it back twice. Had a lot of hassle. YMMV. I hear lots of good things on this board.

    Baer: All I have seen (again not many) and heard is great.

    Also look at Ed Brown and Valtro if you haven't already.
  4. 10-Ring

    10-Ring Well-Known Member

    I'm putting my support behind the Les Baer, but if it were me, I'd go w/ Ed Brown ;)
  5. John Forsyth

    John Forsyth Well-Known Member

    Check out the 1911Forum. Lots of folks there willing to discuss the pros and cons of each. If I was you, I would get in contact with Terry Peters, PT Partners, http://www.pt-partners.com/ , he handles high end 1911's, and stocks Wilson Combat, Ed Brown, and Les Baer. He also has pistols by Vic Tibbets. He can tell you what you want to know.
  6. Bren

    Bren member

    I have two $300 Norico's that never skipped a beat.

    Money has nothing to do with it and that is a typical misconception.

    That said, take a look at Ed brown. Wilsons are a little pricey for a gun not built by him anymore. If you want one built, Yost and Victor T make some sweet guns! Bren
  7. CGofMP

    CGofMP Well-Known Member

    I come from an absolutely admittedly bias point of view since I am the webmaster for both Valtro USA and for Jardine's Custom 1911 Handguns . However, I can say without a doubt that these are the best 1911's I have ever had the pleasure to hold, own or use.

    I am FAR from an expert, but I know what I like and I know the results I have obtained from them. I also know John Jardine (the man behind both institutions, and can say quite honestly I have never met a man more passionate about his customers and about 1911's in general.

    When making a purchase like this however find out all you can about a particular weapon or make. I suggest starting by keyword searching the major sites.

    You can start right here:

    HighRoad.org Valtro Search
    1911 Forum Valtro Search
    Pistolsmith Forum (type in Valtro)
    Heck even the Sig Forum has had some Valtro action on it.

    Anyhow, enjoy the search! No matter what you get, if you are talking high end you'll feel like you are shooting a whole new type of weapon.... :)

  8. UnSafe

    UnSafe Member

    You may reconsider the lower end (Price wise) of the 1911 type pistols. A Wilson or Les Baer pistol will cost 3-4 times as much as a Kimber Custom Classic w/ night sights. With that cost, there is no specific guarantee that it will be MORE reliable under whatever conditions you intend to use it in. If you're a 1911 fan, a basic, fixed sight gun is the best place to start. If you are really concerned about reliability, solicit recommendations for a gunsmith and have him do a basic "Reliability" job on it and the magazines.
    I'd go as far as to say that 90+% of the shooters out there will not shoot any better with a $2000 gun than with a $500 gun.
    Now if you've been bitten by the need for a really nice, semi custom firearm, go for it. I received the the Wilson catalog a while back and really like the CQB, but it's way too pricey for me.
  9. uglymofo

    uglymofo Well-Known Member

    UnSafe is wrong!:) It's 95% of the 1911 shooters out there couldn't shoot any better with a $2000 gun vs. a $500 gun. However, I'd like to qualify that. A $500 gun with a sweet trigger job will get even the novice shooter closer to that $2000 accuracy. Nothing mechanical contributes more to accuracy in a 1911 than the barrel to slide fit; all the rest is really glitz. For dependability, usually a ramp polishing, barrel throating, and lowered port is everything that's required.
  10. 45auto

    45auto Well-Known Member

    It's been my experience that you don't need to drop $1500-2500 to get a reliable single stack, 5" 1911, so I would be hesitant to spend that kind of money also.

    From what I have seen, Baer and Wilson do offer superior fit, finish and accuracy than what you will find in the "big 3" base models. If that's what you want or need, then they would be a good choice for your money.

    If you just want reliability, reasonable accuracy and a decent trigger, try a base model from a well known maker- buy better mags than what comes with the gun and some decent ammo. If you have a problem, or even think you will have a problem, have an inexpensive "reliability" package done by someone competent. I doubt that would cost more than $75-100.
    Chances are you won't have a problem, but, of course, there is a greater chance of an "issue" than with an out of the box Sig- IMO anyway!

    But, the "fix"is usually cheap and quick, not the hundreds and thousands of dollars some people think, at least in my experience.

    Spending $6-800 is a lot easier to swallow than $1500-2500 if you "think" you want a 1911, but not sure.
  11. Correia

    Correia Moderator Emeritus

    If you do decide to go the Wilson or Baer route, I second the idea of talking to Terry Peters. He is a dealer, but he is also super honest and knowledgable. He will walk you through what you really want to get.

    Or if you decide to take a closer look at the Valtro. John Jardine is a super nice guy. He really knows his stuff and will answer any questions you have.

    Personally I think the reliability problems of 1911s is drastically overstated. I use Springfields and Kimbers and have had very few problems at all.

    But if I was in the market for a fancy 1911 I would probably get the Valtro.
  12. UnSafe

    UnSafe Member

    Hey, here's an idea..
    Buy a Kimber Custom Classic (Or whatever basic pistol with the usual reliability & comfort mods that interests you). $600 or so, maybe less if used or on sale. Order up a Dillon RL550 press, dies, and a boatload of reloading supplies (About $400 for the press and dies, I can't remember the prices, I only look at the models anymore :D . $300-350 will buy 4 lb of WW231, 5K primers and bullets, scrounge up all the good brass you can find).
    OK now you'd be into it for maybe $1300-1500 (Go ahead and join a range, why not) And shoot until it's no longer fun for a couple of weekends. That's (IMO) when the real learning begins. By that point, you will have a REALLY good relationship with your pistol, way more important than just owning a beautiful, precision firearm.
    See! Save money and become one with the gun. It's all good!

    Of course, you're going to make your own decision and it will turn out to be the best for you. Whatever you buy, shoot the crap out of it. The highest honor anyone can pay to a gun company or Gunsmith is to wear the product out.
  13. shepsan

    shepsan Well-Known Member

    You have been given good advice by posters

    TheFederalistWeasel, there are many kinds of handguns that chamber the .45 caliber. The most complex of which is the 1911 design. It is also the kind of semiautomatic pistol I chose to carry for protection and to shoot for fun at the range.

    Many people who are able to easily handle other handguns simply have a difficult time with the 1911. Your experienced friend who does well with his HK, you with your Sig and others who are proficient with Glock pistols might be better off not moving to a 1911 and staying with a handgun you are comfortable with and are able to maintain acceptable accuracy.

    If however, you are willing to take the time to really learn how to maintain and control a 1911, the shooting rewards are well worth while.

    With regard to which 1911, John Forsyth provided you with excellent advice. Terry is an outstanding person and an authority in which you may place your confidence. He will not steer you wrong.

    I would add the following. If you decide to buy a 1911 design, be sure to actually inspect in person the 1911 that you are considering. Pick it up, check its balance, rack the slide without allowing it to slam back, squeeze its trigger and look at its visual attributes. Some guns look good but feel bad in one’s hands.

    I own many fine 1911’s. Some are guns produced by Ed Brown, Les Baer and Wilson. I also own a number of true custom 1911 pistols made to my “wants†by outstanding pistolsmiths.

    All of these handguns are different from one another. Each has unique characteristics. As an example, my three Les Baer pistols have a level of what many people consider excessive tightness. MY Ed Brown has the smoothest recoil of all of my pistols. All have fiber optic front sights, etc.

    Some of the things I like in gun, other shooters might not find to their liking. A gun is really is a personal thing and what makes it special differs from shooter to shooter. The one thing we all agree about is that we cannot abide a gun that fails to fire each time the trigger is squeezed for real.

    If I were in your shoes, buying my first 1911, I would purchase a modestly priced stock factory gun from Colt, Kimber or SA. Maintain it properly and LEARN to shoot it well. After a while you will experience its attributes as well as its deficiencies. Then, with this practical 1911 experience, you are knowledgably prepared to buy a higher quality gun (with all of the attributes your modestly priced gun does not have).

    Brown, Baer, Wilson and the like, make fine guns. Each stands behind their product. They cost more than the HK, Sig and Glock. But considering their purpose, protecting one’s life, I consider their cost not expensive at all. And, since they are 1911’s, I believe them to be the best designed handgun one can own.

    Good luck
  14. El Tejon

    El Tejon Well-Known Member

    TFW, I owe several copies of the TRS from Les Baer. It is my primary carry pistol.

    I have taken these pistols (different ones) across the country in different gunskuls. None have maled unless I intentionally caused the mal (in order to clear for training).

    They are outstanding and I highly recommend the TRS. This recommendation comes from one who has many different pistols and has tried the custome route.:banghead: This route did not work for me.

    I love the TRS for its lack of hassle factor, EXCEPT why do they put in that stupid overtravel screw?!?! One would think that a weapon with so much input from Clint Smith would not have such a goofy, silly feckless device. Rip it out and shoot on.
  15. harrydog

    harrydog Well-Known Member

    My Wilson has been a joy to shoot. It is so accurate that it shocked me the first time I shot it. I haven't experienced a single malfunction with it, regardless of the ammo used. And part of what you pay for when you buy a Wilson is the lifetime customer service. If something breaks 10 years down the road, Wilson will fix it.
    Is it worth the price? To me, yes. To others, maybe not. Only you can answer that question.
    While there's no doubt that for many people a full custom gun from a well known pistolsmith is the ultimate way to go, the differences are usually better cosmetics and more refinement, but not functional. There are also some negatives, one being LONG wait times, sometimes years.
  16. Sean Smith

    Sean Smith Well-Known Member

    The unreliability of 1911s is goofily exaggerated. The #1 most reliable gun I've owned so far with the most rounds through it was... a stock Colt 01991. I've owned 5 1911s so far, and only one was a dog (a Para-Ordinance). About the same dud rate as Glocks I've owned, oddly enough. I spent quite a bit of money on 2 of them, but it wasn't to make them more reliable since they worked out of the box.

    I wouldn't suggest dumping lots of money in a 1911 if you aren't clear you even want one, and don't have a clear idea of which features you do/don't want. Having said that, here are my expensive suggestions if you want someting off-the-shelf :D :

    STI Trojan 5.0 or 6.0 ($900-1,200) - lots of bang for the buck here.
    Valtro ($1,400) - the consensus is that these are SWEET guns.
    Ed Brown Kobra ($1,800) - the ones I briefly got to play with were super-sweet.
    Ed Brown Class A Limited ($2,100+) - mix-and-match almost any combination of features you want as long as it is from the Ed Brown part bin. For most people, all choices you could want with faster turn-around than most custom 'smiths.
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2003
  17. craigz

    craigz Well-Known Member

    The best thing you can do for yourself if you want to get into 1911s is find a really good local pistolsmith that you can trust. Les Baers and Wilsons are way above the level of Kimbers and Springfields, in my opinion, but that doesn't mean they're always perfect. I have several Les Baers, and I'm happy with them all, but there have been a few minor problems. With LB, this usually means sending the gun back to them on your dime (or $35, as the case may be) and waiting a month or three for them to send it back. Having somebody local who can take care of the little things is definitely preferable. Of course, if your local guy is really good, your best bet is to buy a cheap base gun and have them set it up the way you want it.
  18. Cory Steiner

    Cory Steiner Guest

    IMHO, selecting a 1911 is a function of features and execution. A base Government model will get the job done just the same as an expensive custom, but the custom might carry a pride of ownership just as an expensive watch might for some. A Wilson or Baer are outstanding if near flawless execution is important although it's really not that important to many. Most Springfields, Colts, Kimbers, ect. will get the job done.
    Upon my search I was looking for a basic steel commander size without too many frills. The Rock River Arms Elite Commando fit the bill perfectly. I'd probably have gotten a Kimber Pro Carry if they offered one in blued steel, but they didn't. Rock River Arms requires a year and half or so order time whereas a Baer and Wilson can be had right away especially from Terry Peters. All are great choices. Personally, I think that the Baer Concept VIII is awesome.
  19. FB3

    FB3 Member

    I have several Wilsons including protectors and a CQB. All of my Wilsons have been just great from the get go. The only problem that I did have with a protector involved a slight cosmetic issue which Wilson corrected in less than a week and paid shipping both ways.

    My only experience with a Les Baer was a TRS that I bought new about a year ago. The fit between the grip safety and frame was poor which resulted in a lot of skin being removed from the web of my hand between thumb and forefinger. I returned it to Baer, at my expense, and it took them over six weeks to correct the problem. The barrel bushing on my TRS was so tight that it was actually binding in the slide and almost impossible to remove without a very long steel bushing wrench. The gun was reliable, but no more accurate than any of my Wilsons.

    I will buy more Wilson pistols, but my one forray into the Baer product line will be my last. Just my experience
  20. Sven

    Sven Senior Member

    Consider the Valtro. If you want it tricked out, have Jardine do it for you.

    Check out my thread here including pictures of what Jardine just did to my Valtro.

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