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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Another HOT Custom 1911 This time a COMMANDER

I bought a like new Series 1 Kimber Pro Carry just for the frame.  I am crazy that way.  A few years ago the only quality alloy frame I could find for a Commander was Kimber. So I bought one, scrapped the top end (which sold for close to what the gun cost, go figure) and sent it to Garthwaite with a Shuemann AET .38 Super barrel and a host of good parts from Caspian, Kings and STI. 

This gun loves Corbon DPX and Winchester Silvertips.  One thing you quickly learn is that 9x23 has plenty of pop for a carry gun. At 28 ounces, this is one of the more size efficient 10 round packages out there. Robar applied NP3 finish to the whole shebang.  It looks good and resists corrosion although if your gun isn't checkered, it can be a little slick. I regret not checkering this gun. Pennywise and pound foolish I guess.
I like Wilson .38 Super mags and use metal baseplates with them.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A proper 10mm 1911 carry gun

Here is another 10mm (one of several).  This is a Jim Garthwaite creation. Jim salvaged a beat up old Delta Elite, added a Bar-Sto barrel, snugged it up and fitted some of his perfect sights-a reworked Heinie with a the gold bead front on a serrated ramp. Shoots great with most loads.  Great trigger. Like all of Garthwaite's guns, great metalwork and bluing.  Notice the subtle high cut? And the front strap serrations? Rubber grips on a 3K pistol?  I know I know...that's an affectation of mine. The only negative is that they hold moisture.  Otherwise they are hard to beat for a knock around carry pistol.

10mm can be a finicky cartridge-the long OAL, the extreme Power factor and pressure and smallish rim all add up to trouble in a 1911 platform if things aren't just right. GO to an experienced 10mm pistolsmith with your 10mm project and you will be much happier in the long run.

The kind of gun that wins IDPA Matches-EGW Single stack Caspian

Before Jim Milks left EGW he built me a few "shooters".  These were planned to be range queens, not safe queens.  After handling a few of the Caspian frames with tactical magwell I quickly decided that would be a fine path to take.  Jim expertly checkered this one, front and back, 20 LPI, added a Caspian slide, Kart barrel and my favorite Heinie sights with a black serrated .110" wide ramp front. 3lb trigger on Extreme Engineering components and EGW"s E-treat finish (similar to Tenifer).  It is chock full of EGW parts along with a Greider slide stop, SVI bar stock thumb safety, Brown mag catch and Wilson beavertail. Everything is pretty well seamslessly blended.  The barrel(Kart)/slide/frame fit is perfection.

When I first got the gun fresh from the finishing I had a few rough spots-the finish added some friction and was occasionally failing to feed-a little 2000 grit paper on a dowel smoothed the frame ramp enough that it went away.  It now basically feeds like a marble on greased glass-slick. I like the way the finish resists corrosion and kydex wear, but pretty certain I won't be having it done to any more guns in the future.

Its a super shooter and 1/2 ounce under the IDPA CDP weight limit.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A 10 from Ned

When my name popped up on Ned Christiansen's list a few years back I decided he was just the kind of quirky guy to build be a 10mm longslide.  After messing with a plethora of 10mm pistols over the years, I really came to appreciate the longslide in this caliber for the long sight radius and enhanced reliability.  A major benefit to building a 6" is the ability to use longslide springs, which are as long as buggy whips and will never go flat.  This gun was concieved as a "Combat-Hunter Longslide" with lo-profile adjustables and Ned's Conamyd treatment everywhere.  Ned does awesome machining and fitting.  This is one of the finest guns I own.  It is ridiculously accurate (Sheumann AET barrel).  I opted to use Paul Liebenberg's ISS sights for ease of front sight replacement-I have a gold bead, fiber optic and plain black post that can be switched out depending on range conditions. I look forward to doing more hunting with this guns.  Its favorite load is the Doubletap 155 grain XPB.  Not for sale at any price!!!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Do you like CUSTOM 1911's?? Then you have come to the right place!

Do you like custom 1911's by the top makers?? Keep watching this blog, the best is yet to come!

Jim Hoag-Custom 1911 Gunsmith to the stars

Most people don't really appreciate Jim Hoag. Hoag's guns however, are the MOST desirable custom 1911's to most pistolsmiths. Richard Heinie, Bill Wilson, Ed Brown-they all collect HOAG guns. Why? Well, he was the first 1911 pistolsmith who cared about fit and finish. Hoag was a contemporary of Swenson who started out working for King's Gunworks. After moving out on his own, Hoag's proximity to LA enabled many a Hollywood star to get custom 1911's built. Hoag is known for building James Caan's longslide 1911 in the movie "Thief", a pistol that heavily influenced other budding pistolsmiths, notably Heinie.
Hoag's attention to detail was far superior to Swenson and rivaled only by Pachmayr's Combat Special builds. This gun, my second Hoag is typical of a late 80's era gun built on a Colt '70 Series. It has a Bar-Sto barrel, Hoag's signature squared triggerguard, bordered checkering (Hand cut) and stubby (but practical) beavertail. A masterful example of what a bespoke 1911 should be. Unlike other masters of the era, the quality of the work stands up very well today. Mr. Hoag, pushing 80, still builds custom pistols in Canoga Park, CA.

Jim Hoag-1911 Gunsmith to the stars

Old Friends, New Blaster

My old friend Shawn died a few years ago suddenly and his guns were lost to some knuckledhead family members. Recently I heard that there was a neat gun a in a pawn shop 50 miles from where I live, about 300 miles away from where Shawn lived and died.
It was this gun, his holy grail. A Steve Woods custom circa 1991 built on a pre-'70 Colt Government, .45 of course with more than enough bells and whistles. Loads of checkering. Perfect checkering. bank vault fitting. Great trigger. Machine work by the BEST in the business, Pete Single. Uber-detailing and massaging by Steve Woods. One of the best makers of the '80's and '90's. If you ever see a gun with his mark, the Griffon-BUY IT. It will be worth more than the asking price. Shawn, I have given your "Grail" a good home. This time it will not get cast to the wind-I promise.

Original 1917 Military Issue Colt

This is my original 1917 Government Model Colt in 97% condition. They really knew how to build them back then. Even though this is a military production gun, all flats are flat and all rounds are round. Barrel fit is impressive. With a current magazine, this gun will feed ANY modern hollowpoint which tells you its more about the specs of the base gun than any extraneous doodads.

Garthwaite CCO-a Classic CCW 1911 pistol

Jim Garthwaite built me this gun over a decade ago. At the time, and now its pretty much state of the art. I purchased 2 brand new Colts-an "enhanced" Officers ACP and an enhanced Lightweight Commander and swapped the tops. I sold the bastard child for an exorbitant amount and sent Jim the parts and pieces. We settled on a ramped barrel made by my friend Fred Kart, whose shop I had previously visited. A Melange of Wilson and McCormick parts finished her up. I recently had the tritium front sight replaced with a Gold bead and had Jim install the solid trigger which I prefer. The only problem ever with this gun? A cracked firing pin stop that Jim replaced with a Caspian. Colt Series 80 parts have been (wisely) removed. NP3 makes her pretty and slick.

My favorite range gun-EGW "Waterhose" 9mm SVI

At one time I was shooting 2-3 IDPA matches a month and wanted to build a really competitive 9mm. I found that the S_I widebody frames fit my big hand better than any single stack and were easy to shoot well. I aquired an SVI frame (The best of the breed), a Caspian 9mm slide, Shuemann AET Barrel and sent it off to EGW in Pennsylvania. EGW had a great reputation for building competition guns and their turnaround was quick. While the gun was being built I sent 6 SVI 9mm mags to Beven Grams for his tuning services and spring/follower kits and ordered a grip from Jim Shanahan at Advanced Performance Shooting. This gun has over 15,000 rounds through it without a malfunction. I retired it for a while but am now shooting it in local Steel Challenge competitions. It's a one-hole shooter at any range! Hyper accurate and hyper reliable. Jim Milks was the head EGW gunsmith that built this superb gun-I recommened his work for these kind of blasters his shop is now and EGW no longer performs gunsmithing for the public.
The Nastoff Supercomp was THE gun to own if you shot IPSC in the 1980's. Jerry Barnhart was Steve's best known shooter and American Handgunner heavily promoted Nastoff as tops in the fit, finish and style department. Back them it could take 5 years to get one. Nastoff now works for the Government and no longer builds guns.

My Supercomp is built on a Colt 70 series gun and exhibits flawless metalworking skills. Nastoff was known for his sharp checkering, sculpted beavertails and swaged magwells. This is an early Nastoff magwell that was copied by S&A to make the S&A mag guide.

I confess that I have only shot this gun once. It is way too pretty and rare to leave the house. A true "Safe Queen".

Jason Knight Damascus Bowie-Just In

I was able to score a massive new Damascus Bowie from ABS Master Bladesmith Jason Knight recently. To say this knife is world class is a gross understatement.
11 inches of random Damascus with a stainless guard and blackwood handle=Masterpiece.
Jason is the undisputed crown prince of the Custom Bowie world right now. He focuses solely on hunters and bowies, and this laser dedication has elevated him to the top of the game in less than 10 years.

Wilson Combat- Why they are the best of the Custom "Shops"

When it comes to higher volume production shops, Ed Brown, Les Baer, Nighthawk, and Wilson Combat are the usual names tossed around with Fusion, Uselton, Volkmann and a few other fringe players occasionally mentioned. After trying most of the others, I strongly believe that of the "Big" shops, Wilson Combat is the clear winner. Why?
1) Customer service-1911's can be tricky-Wilson's has an impressive reputation for making things right, cheerfully and quickly.
2) Innovation-their parts quality is the best in the business. What other custom shops makes a fully machined beavertail but Wilson and Liebenberg? Machined thumb safeties besides Wilson?
Fully machined slide stops? The Wilson slides and frames are absolute precision with flawless checkering and sexy contours. When it comes to the big shops-Wilson has no peer.
3) Experience-Bill Wilson is one of the most experienced shooters in the business. With Vic Tibbets running his shop, I imagine we will see some great new items in the future. GO WC!

Garthwaite 9x19/9x23 switch barrel deluxe carry 1911

Jim Garthwaite has been building guns for a long time. He is well known for his flawless checkering and meticulous attention to detail. This is one my Garthwaite guns with fine checkering built on a Briley forged frame and Caspian slide. With a 9x19 and 9x23 barrel it is fun and economical to practice with. The 9x23 shines at long range and achieves .357 Magnum ballistics in a soft-shooting 1911 platform. Jim is an unsung hero in the 1911 world-while others have multi-year backlogs, Jim is content to maintain a fairly low profile and can usually deliver a nice gun in 6 months or less.  He is truly one of the best in the world at what he does.

Liebenberg-Briley 1911

This is an interesting 1911-Custom built by Paul Liebenberg for Briley USA, it has many of Paul's signature features such as high grip machined beavertail, fine (flawless) checkering and several of his new parts like sights, action set and extractor. This gun has a beautiful two-tone finish and the Accurails ensure a long-lasting tight fit. Any gun built by Liebenberg is rare-I highly endorse his work.