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Opiniions on auto ord. .45's

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by 3screw357, Mar 24, 2004.

  1. 3screw357

    3screw357 New Member

    Feb 24, 2004
    South Carolina
    I have the opportunity to pick up a couple of auto ordinance .45's in a trade and I was wondering what the general opinion of these guns are.
    Any help is appreciated.
  2. Josey

    Josey member

    Feb 11, 2003
    Catfish Co, KY
    I would pass.
  3. Detritus

    Detritus Senior Member

    Jan 19, 2003
    Central NC
    if made at least a few months after Kahr took ownership of AO the guns have a decent likelihood of being an "ok" risk (reports are than Kahr has started getting the bugs out of the QC system but it took a little bit to get things smoothly going)...

    If made duringthe time Gunparts Inc. (Numrich) owned the name, well you've about an 70-80% chance of the guns being usefull only as a decoy weight.

    and i'd say if they're coming in on a trade then odds are that the guns are "pre-kahr" and in the "don't risk it" pile.
  4. arinvolvo

    arinvolvo Participating Member

    Feb 5, 2003
    agree with detritus...prekahr are passers...post kahr have potential.

    as much as it pains me to say it...youd be better off with a para.:uhoh: :D
  5. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    May 22, 2003
    Lexington,North Carolina...or thereabouts
    Auto Ordnance Revisited

    Good advice from our members. Some of the early 80s production
    Auto Ordnance pistols wre actually quite good, all things considered.
    Most weren't. The late 80s to mid 90s pistols ran from bad to horrible.

    I used to search for Auto Ordnance 1911s with issues and pick'em
    up for a song...which the owner was happy to get in most cases...and
    go rework, massage, tweak and shoot to destruction. Most of the time,
    it wound up being a matter of tossing everything but the slide, frame,
    barrel, trigger and grip safety and rebuilding the gun. Sometimes even the
    barrel went away. Rebuilding from the used/junk parts box was the cheap
    way to go, and nothing much dropped in and worked.

    If you can get the pair for under 200 bucks, have a talent for turning
    sow's ears into denim purses, and have a fairly extensive used parts
    collection, they might be worth messin' with. Otherwise, it's best to pass.

    I've heard that the newer production Kahrs are much better, but since
    nobody around here will buy one due to the bad rep that they gained
    in the past, I haven't had the opportunity to break one down to have a
    close look. Can't ofer a judgement call on'em.

    If you want a really good 1911 pistol with no cheap castings where there should be good steel...and all you want is a no-frills go anywhere/do anything utility pistol, find a stock Norinco...one that hasn't been "smithed'
    with a trigger job, and buy it. They're reliable, in-spec, tough as pig iron,
    and most can be bought used for as little as 300 bucks up to 400-450


  6. stans

    stans Senior Member

    Dec 27, 2002
    central Virginia
    I think Tuner nailed it. I had one that I bought used in 1988, so it had to be mid 1980's production. It was not entirely reliable, even ball ammo would sometimes hang. The parts were crudely machined. The breech face was so rough that no amount of polishing could smooth it out. The barrel actually appeared to be a casting as well. I eventually used this gun to learn 1911 gunsmithing. If I had known how bad they really were, I would have never bought one, but at the time all the gun magazines were busy writing articles on how great they were, how reliable, and how incredibly accurate. May have been true of the samples sent to the gun writers, but not true of the pig I bought.

    I have handled some of the new production Auto Ords. Some seemed to be pretty well finished and put together, others were just as bad as the old ones.
  7. DavidC

    DavidC New Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    I bought one in '92. The parts themselves weren't bad, (if fact there is still no wear visible on the gun) but the build quality was horrible. No one had bothered to pull the trigger after it was assembled. If they had tried they would have found it wouldn't pull; the notch for the trigger in the grip safty hadn't been cut out.

    After this was fixed it wouldn't cycle FMJ factory ammo, the barrel link was twisted end to end. A big vise and a little fine sandpaper fixed this and a file had fixed the grip safty.

    After the initial couple days of aggravation (we won't even talk about the day, day and a half to find the safety spring and plunger when it sproinged out into the carpet the first time I took the gun apart <g>), but no money spent, on these things, it has pretty much been flawless with no parts needed for the last 12 years.
  8. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    May 22, 2003
    Lexington,North Carolina...or thereabouts
    Auto Ordnance

    Howdy DavidC. Welcome to THR.

    I've got an early 1982 production AO that's actually quite good. Absolutely
    flawless vertical lockup on the bottom lug and slidestop pin. Slide/frame
    fit is virtually slop-free and centered to within .001 inch The pistol is
    dead reliable and as accurate as the average Gold Cup...even with the two-piece barrel. Thompson DID put a good one together once in a while...
    just not very often.

    The biggest issue is in the cheaply cast small parts. Hammer, sear, disconnect...etc. All of'em. Even the pins. I replaced all the internals with either commercial Colt or good, used USGI parts.

    The frame and slide are still investment cast, though, and won't stand up to
    heavy use for long. Every AO dog that I've salvaged has busted the slide in
    less than 15,000 rounds...and the frames generally go south at about 25,000. That's about my average round count for a summer.

    Essex (The company that supplied Thompson with the frames and slides)
    has come a long way since those days, and their castings are very good,
    though still not on a par with Caspian's. I've built two Commander clones
    on Essex frame and slide sets in the last year, for less than 600 dollars per
    gun, and both have been completely satisfactory and reliable. Due to
    my standing "Professional Discount" left over from the good old days, my cost ran about a hundred to a hundred and a quarter lower than without it,
    but the guns are better than anything on the commercial market in that price range, and with good steel internals to boot. This is mostly due to
    everything being in-spec and tight QC on the part of Essex Arms, though
    some metal prep work is called for if you want a nice finish.



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