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Ranking quality levels of current production 1911s

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by 10-Ring, Dec 31, 2006.

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  1. 10-Ring

    10-Ring Member

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    Okay, I understand Les Baers, Ed Browns & Wilson Combats are cream of the crop guns but what would be considered the next tier & so on?
    I understand the top production 3 are Colt, Kimber & Springfield Armory, but how do the rest fall into line?
     
  2. Black_Talon

    Black_Talon Member

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    <grabs a beer and a bucket of popcorn and sits back>
     
  3. mljdeckard

    mljdeckard Member

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    I'm not even going to try to compete in a thread where opinion is regarded as fact, other than to say that I have no reason to switch my Kimber out for ANY other 1911.
     
  4. Black Majik

    Black Majik Member

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    Hmm...

    Top tier:
    - Ed Brown
    -Nighthawk
    - Springfield Professional model (even though it uses MIM :D)

    2nd tier
    - Les Baer
    - Wilson
    - STI/SVI

    (The first and second teir models are so close, but in regards to fit and finish there is a difference. All makers above use first rate parts)

    Ed Brown and Nighthawk both make some beautiful guns. Ed Brown more so for the fancy, stylish 1911s with the snake scales and very soft edges. Overall very beautiful pieces. Nighthawk is also pretty impressive in fit and finish department, and while it closely resembles Wilson, the fit and finish IMO are leagues ahead of the Wilson guns.

    Les Baer: Moreso for the defensive fighting guns, I view Les' line of guns to be "All go, no show" type guns. Quality parts in every respect and spectacular fit... but very simple finish. The Baercoat was less than impressive, and the bluing, while gorgeous is very thin and wears easily. Mainly look for pictures of my PII for my explanation in regards to Baer's finish. Also to note, the main feature I LOVE is the undercut triggerguard so the bore sits lower in the hand. Awesome feature. I actually like the very tight, vault like fit. It feels like you're holding one solid piece of steel. Very well done Les. But couldn't you put on hex screws at least instead on such a high dollar firearm?

    Wilson, no urge to spluge on one. Good parts but no wow factor for me.

    Springfield PRO: Impressive fit and finish. Beautiful Black T finish. All around impressive. Someday I'll get one.

    Ed Brown: One thing I did notice is the inside of the hammers sometimes has tool marks. Something to look to.

    Production model
    - Springfield
    - Smith and Wesson
    - Kimber
    - Colt
    - SIG GSR/Revolution
    - Para Ordnance
    - Rock Island Armory
    - Charles Daly

    Some notes:

    Smith and Wesson, while the 1911 is a great gun, there are two main points that really killed the fit and finish. Firstly, the messy crown jobs on most S&W 1911 pistols. Secondly, the crappy fit of most rear fixed sights. There is usally enough gap that light will pass through, and pretty much looks like a kitchen butcher gunsmith job.

    Springfield's guns are usually well put together, but they're guns aren't really that tight. Newer production 1911s have tighter slide to frame fit than the older models from what I've seen.

    Kimber: Their damn grip safety looks like a pumas rock. Seriously, that MIM pos grip safety kills the asthetics of the gun, as well as dropping serious points on the ranking quality scale. Slide to frame fit is usually pretty good, as well as dehorned front and rear of the slide. Where Springfield Armory beats Kimber is Kimber's "Custom Shop." Kimber's Custom shop is a complete joke.

    Colt: QC is getting better for Colt, they're making guns that work really well, but there are still asthetic issues to make note of. The off center drilling for the recoil spring hole as well as slide overhang at the rear. Small, but notable issues. Also they cant spend the small amount of time to dehorn the edges just a LITTLE? Those things are friggin' sharp to hold. Slide to frame fit is classic Colt, it'll rattle no matter which Colt you pick up. They are accurate though.

    SIGarms: Their GSR and Revolution may have quality parts, but there are still many reports of failures. Good parts means squat if the gun doesn't run correctly. The Mosquito may be the black sheep of SIG's line, but the 1911s are the redheaded stepchild.

    Para Ordnance. Not high on my list because the lack of fit and finish. Pretty substandard, light tooling marks on frame from examples I've seen. Some models don't even feel like a 1911. So-so triggers and action. Eh...

    Anyways, my $0.02
     
  5. wooderson

    wooderson member

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    Haven't heard anything bad about Dan Wessons since they were bought out by CZ. I'm more apt to buy one of those in the sub-$1000 range compared to Springfields or Kimbers.
     
  6. nwgunman

    nwgunman Member

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    I bought a S&W 1911PD (4.25"bbl) a while back and it has been the best 1911 right out of the box that I have ever owned. Of course, I have never laid out $2,000 (or more?!?) for a "big name" custom 1911. But I have many, many 1911's and put about much money into one or the other. This S&W has been flawlessly reliable, very accurate (for my needs and abilities at least), is light and easy to carry (Scandium frame), and absolutely will stay in my collection. Compared to some of the abysmal 1911's I've bought in the past (like a Colt Gold Cup back in the 70s for example, or an incredibly mediocre Springfield a couple of years later, or etc, etc) it has been such a joy that it actually re-kindled that "1911" thing for me, for a while anyway. I was even thinking about buying...another one? Well, probably not. It's still a 1911. But anyway, that's my little blurb concerning your inquiry.
     
  7. GunNut

    GunNut Member

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    Great post by Black Majik.

    To me there is not much difference between the top custom makers ie: Nighthawk, Wilson, Les Baer, STI, etc.

    I'll just sit back and watch what the 1911 experts have to say.:D

    Steve
     
  8. SilverState

    SilverState Member

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    I think the original poster needs to be more specific. Otherwise, you get people just talking about what they like, even if it is for no particular reason.

    For example, ranking Ed Brown as first tier along with Nighthawk, but putting Wilson combat and Les Baer in tier two could be considered by some, to be crazy.

    But that's the problem if the question is not specific enough.

    ;)
     
  9. Black Majik

    Black Majik Member

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    True, but I do feel that the Browns and Nighthawks have a touch better finish than the Baers. They're all exellent firearms; the Baers, Browns, NH, Wilsons, and RRA. But some are slightly better fit and finish wise than others.

    They may be opinions, but at least I stated why instead of just listing them without an explaination. ;)
     
  10. jlh26oo

    jlh26oo Member

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    I thought the off center recoil channels were only on the s70r, but yeah tHese are the exact complaints that keep me from going for Colt. WHich would otherwise be my first choice.

    Funny thing on MIM. NOticed you put the SA pro right up there at the top, yet has MIM. Sig supposedly has NO MIM, yet you don't rank it w.colt.

    Too bad about S&W. Those look pretty good. Weak finish huh?

    Thanks for the breakdown.
     
  11. GreenFurniture

    GreenFurniture Member

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    Toss Nighthawk out since they use MIM.

    The Professional too.
     
  12. The Real Hawkeye

    The Real Hawkeye member

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    Colt is the best of the major manufacturors of 1911s. Second would probably be Springfield Armory.
     
  13. jlh26oo

    jlh26oo Member

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    Yeah, I wonder if the whole MIM thing is overrated. For instance, Colt people use SA and Kimber's use of it to justify their price, yet Sig uses NONE- and can be found now for $638 NIB @buds. Guess the whole is sometimes > sum of parts, even if said parts are mim lol.

    What the Colt people tell me, is that the mim Colt uses (3 parts + nylon msh) are in less critical parts, so it doesn't matter that much to upgrade, but don't like for instance Kimber's use of MIM.


    Anyone know how much/which parts are mim in S&W?
     
  14. BamBam-31

    BamBam-31 Member

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    I can't believe you didn't list Glock in your top tier. No MIM whatsoever. :p
     
  15. jlh26oo

    jlh26oo Member

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    GLOCK's making a 1911 now?!
     
  16. Mandirigma

    Mandirigma Member

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    http://www.nighthawkcustom.com/Faq.aspx

     

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  17. SilverState

    SilverState Member

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    Wasn't trying to target Black Majik, just trying to illustrate that the query needs to be more specific.

    Personally, I am not in the gun industry, so all I have to go on is my own personal experience. And I would not say my Wilson Combat is in a different tier than my Ed Brown. But that is only my opinion. As for Baer, that's my next purchase. And as for RRA, it's in the same tier with the Wilson and the Brown IMHO. My STI is in the next tier down, but then, I am talking about the Trojan, and I know STI makes fancier 1911s than that model. When I get my Baer, it had better be at least equal to my Brown, Wilson, and RRA. If not, I will need to sell it.
     
  18. Black Majik

    Black Majik Member

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    Silverstate,

    I know you weren't singling me out. I have two Baers that I adore very much, but they're more utilitarian than the Browns and Nighthawks. Maybe placing them in "tiers" wasn't the best thing to do, but I do feel the Browns and NH are a very slight bump up in finish. All semi-custom 1911s have amazing fit, though their philosophy is different. Les Baer believes in the bank vault tight fit that requires 1000s of rounds to break-in; Wilson, NH and Ed Brown believe in the tight but smooth.

    All semi-custom makers use quality parts, all have great fit, the finish was what made the Browns and NH stand above the rest. But very marginally.

    Les Baer's bluing especially, that bluing will wear if you look at it wrong.

    As an example, my hard use PII vs. my babied Custom Carry. Sorta like a before and after picture...

    [​IMG]

    That's primarily why I didn't feel their finishing is in the same level. Their Baercoat isn't much more durable. Of all black finishes, I believe Black T is the best. So, hardchrome would be the way to go in terms of durability, depends on whether or not the buyer can handle the "blinginess." :D


    Marc,

    Help me out here man, I saw your post on Calguns! :D
     
  19. GreenFurniture

    GreenFurniture Member

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    As long as they run, who am I to judge?

    [​IMG]
     
  20. Chuck R.

    Chuck R. Member

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    For what it's worth, I also own two Baers and agree with Black Majik's ranking Baer as a second teir.

    My Baer's are rock solid performer's and at they're price a great value in a semi-custom. The fit is superb, the accuracy is awesome, but the finish is not at the same level IMHO as a Brown.

    But, they're also quite a bit less. I don't know how much Les makes on each pistol, but based on the cost of parts and fitting it can't be too much. I've seen Colts listing for over 1K while PIIs were around $1300. In my youth I had several 1911's built up from Colts and by the time I got down replacing this and that, having accuracy jobs done, new sights etc I'd paid more than the cost for a PII.

    So for a working gun, or for CCW when I know the finish is going to take a beating I choose Baer's. While I think Brown's are awesome 1911s, but they cross my personal threshold for diminishing returns. I think they're nicer than Baer's just not "X" number of dollar's nicer.

    Chuck
     
  21. Fun2Shoot

    Fun2Shoot Member

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    (post #4)

    +1
     
  22. Magnumite

    Magnumite Member

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    Looks like the upper two tiers being discussed here is separated basically by cosmetics. They are custom guns built to specific configurations.

    Those guns are built to very similar standards with the buyer paying premiums for finishes, snake scales and such. Personally, I'd put them in one catagory and the buyer pays for the options.

    I'd say a second tier would be manufacturer higher preformance guns. Examples would be a SA Trophy Match, Kimber Gold Match, Colt Gold Cup and so on.

    Then I would say would be your high quality mainline guns (Loaded, Classics, Gov't Model, yada..). And I won't mention designer guns.

    And there is the individualized one up customs.
     
  23. aka108

    aka108 Member

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    Too many 1911's out there for an absolute "best' determination. The very best for me is on that runs with 100 percent reliabilty and feeds anything put into it regardless of price. Quality of finish is nice but basically eye candy.
     
  24. schmeky

    schmeky Member

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    Never had a "top line" auto (i.e., couple thousand dollars), but my Kimber Classic Custom out of the box has been as reliable as . . . . . . . a couple of Norincos I no longer own.

    Accuracy wise my Kimber was more accurate than my Colt Gold Cup I had many years ago. Norincos were combat accurate and the 2 I had were dead nuts reliable.
     
  25. xMetal

    xMetal Member

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    I think that a new thread should be started, in which no other info is given other than

    brand
    model
    approx. rounds shot to date
    problems encountered

    Leave all the opinion elsewhere. Leave your thoughts on the look, warranty, customer service, etc out and just stick to those 4 facts which can't be disputed.

    That would then give new buyers a thread in which to research and see concrete evidence from real people. There are a lot of 1911's on here, so I imagine if everyone actually posted it would be quite lengthy.
     
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