I am re-posting this writeup (very long) because I feel it contains useful information to new 1911 owners who may find "they don't work."
I find myself answering these posts trying to be helpful, but maybe this needs to be a sticky? I love to help people when I can, and if I can learn some new things (which I did here) in the bargain, all the better.
If you are a 1911 aficionado, this writeup may appear a bit sophomoric for you.
I am not affiliated with any company (Glock, Wilson, ATI, Playboy, etc.).
What you do to your gun and how you handle it requires safety and personal responsibility at all times.
Improper use, handling, or a lack of familiarity with your firearm, and failure to follow safety guidelines could put your life or the lives of others at risk death/severe bodily injury.
Reader Note* While this is a real review, it is also full of opinion, commentary, and satire. It also may explain why your 1911 is not running like it should.
I thought it was a deal almost too good to be true…
Palmetto State Armory, selling the American Tactical Import (ATI) M1911 .45 “Commander” pistol complete with beavertail, rounded hammer, and extended safety…The reduced sticker price was $320 and along with an ATI $30 dollar rebate, became $290 before shipping/transfer fees.
Soooooo…I bought it.
Now I will tell you, I am not a “1911” loyalist-but I just can’t help but love them. They are as American as apple pie, and if the M16/M4 (and its many variants) is America’s rifle, the 1911 .45 (and its many variants), is also her pistol. However, my go to gun is not a 1911, and more than likely, will never be. Sorry fans, I have had (and others) multiple bad experiences in the functioning department -across the line (and please, that is not to say that there aren’t reliable 1911’s out there, I just have not shot/owned/or taken the extra time, ammo, and ‘smithing to make one).
I still love them though; their feel, the nostalgia, the bad-ass, broad chested, V-8-muscle car-caliber packaged in that sleek slab-sided frame. I still remember like it was yesterday, as a child seeing and holding my first 1911 Gov’t model, carried by a huge, grizzled old detective friend of the family. With my parent’s permission, he showed me that cannon. I remember holding it, the weight and sheer size, looking at one of the big cartridges, and it seemed as big as my thumb! Sort of like that your first real kiss, you never forget it! (Gee, what was her name?!!?)
The fabled 1911, IMHO (and others) also seems to have the magical ability to shrink a shooter’s personal best groups by 25-50% when compared to them shooting their latest plastic fantastic, or host of lawyer friendly DAOs,...I’ve seen it. They are special in that way, and naturally-the ergonomics, their balance, natural safety-the single action trigger. The gun fits me, and most people, like no other.
I will not deny it. Hence, the duality lives quite well, and comfortably, within me.
When it arrived to the FFL, I will admit, there was not much fanfare associated with it:
The small brown box.
One 8-round magazine.
One gun lock.
Oh, and one gun.
Hmm…Look at it…the plastic grips; that utilitarian rough coating; that dreaded magazine with the floor plate that extends past the frame…UGLY! Killing the look of the gun…
ACK, those sights-airsoft guys get better ones… It looks like something a cop might find not too far from a dead body encapsulated in chalk...
But wait a minute (grabbing and double checking twice the weapon is empty)…work that slide several times…springy noise-but pretty smooth…check the slide to frame fit-nice and tight.
Check out that beaver tail, and conservative, useable extended safety…now (point in a safe direction) and squeeze the trigger. Just a wee bit of slack; clean even pressure…”clink!”
Well, not a bad trigger there either, one part slack, one part creep, one part noise; sounds like 90% of GD here
The look of it?
Well, it is the look that says hey, I may be cheap, but I’m also easy (wink)
Why don’t we go for a little walk to my place to pass the time?
At the range?
Yup, she ain't a real pretty gun. And that’s OK; neither is my Glock.
I am the type of person who appreciates both inner and outer beauty. I appreciate “utilitarian beauty” through the functionality and simplicity of mechanical devices. I find bulldozers and battle tanks beautiful in their way, as well as gull winged gliders, birds of prey, thunderstorms, etc.
Form, function, smoothness, sharpness, colored within the lines or outside of them-the curve of a knife blade, snarky wings on race cars, weld marks around an aluminum 4x4 bumper, scars on a woman.
I am still waiting to meet her-the woman of my dreams-with an eye patch.
Yar, I recognize that beauty and functionality rarely meet; often do not even walk the same streets…but occasionally they DO meet, and have a love child...but maybe not so much in this case.
If you were to ask me where it does meet, I would say a “pretty” gun that I would absolutely bet my life on? I would say the Beretta 92 in 9mm. And that is because I have bet my life on it, and (it) has served me flawlessly. Today I carry a Glock…and that forsaken thing fell off of the ugly tree, hit every branch on the way down, the tree fell on it, and was kicked into a trash compactor.
As far as Glock beauty goes, Glocks have a face that only Gaston Glock could truly love...
And yet…here I bought it…after all was said and done with shipping and dealer fee, I am into her for a total price of $330, which I hoped, would scratch the Commander itch I’ve had for a loooong time-and not at the $900+ cost for the Prancing Pony. And from certain angles…hmmm...maybe?
So I grabbed my ears, protective glasses, and my newly acquired “hand-cannon” and headed to my local range along with 100 rounds of American Eagle 230 grain FMJ.
I did not clean, or oil the gun. I like to see how a gun (non-precision) does “out of the box” as shipped, with a magazine fully loaded and with one in the chamber.
I stuffed a fully loaded (8 rounds in the magazine) into the dry gun, charged from slide stop-and was pleasantly surprised it fed the round without drama and topped off the magazine +1, maxing capacity at a total of 9 rounds. Using an old target left behind, I sighted at the “little man” at 7 yards and produced this 9 shot group. Notice, it is significantly off to the right (more on this later).
To my pleasant surprise, it fired all 9 rounds flawlessly, belching fire and sparks through the mild recoil impulse.
The trigger, when dry fired felt good, around 5 pounds, and pretty “crisp” (interpret this as you see fit; I am a Glock guy). Until I tried to fire it for accuracy…and then it felt a bit more gritty and “argumentative.”
Have you ever noticed this before? When you are trying to squeak out as much accuracy as you can? A trigger that feels good dry firing now feels like 100 miles of bad Georgia asphalt at the range?
Well me too.
Obviously, this can all be described as psychological (will this trigger ever break?!!?), physical (is my finger going numb?) and situational (am I thinking about this too much? Yes!).
To me, when drilling down on a firearm, the “warts” can often only begin to be shown at the range, and not the gun shop (bottom line is, the trigger is still pretty damn good).
I looked at the new barrel wear…and while I swore I was not going to oil the gun but break it in “the hard way” I felt a burst of mechanical empathy, and broke her down and oiled it.
Now, with a fresh oily sheen on the rubbing parts, I pulled a chair up and set about to laying down some accuracy (and function) testing. It was rested in a comfortable two hand hold on a bench table and on the cardboard box (not a machine rest). Generally when doing this, I am usually rewarded with 3 inch +/-groups at 25 yards with my Glock and quality ammo, consistently. My reward?
That is roughly a 4-5 inch group.
And while it is often the poor cook that blames the pots, I felt like something, somewhere, was not doing its job. And then I felt better sights and better ammo *might* easily half that size.
Don’t believe me?
Those sights, while clean, are not the best for accuracy. I mean my complaining is really a “druthers on a dirt cheap gun” and culled when you really look at that price tag. Also, I had no idea even how old the ammo was, and sorely doubt it was made with precision in mind (other than to function).
I asked the Gun Counter Guy (GCG) if they could change the point of aim (POA) to match the point of impact (POI). I will not go into what happened next over the next 45 minutes, because that would only serve to frustrate myself all over again, as they tried to explain to me it was hitting to the right because of my 100 year old grip. Suffice it to say, it was not my grip; in fact, if one was to travel 1,000 years back in time, or 1,000 years forward in time, it still would never, ever, ever, be my grip. Ever
BUT two GCG’s later (I was as tolerant as possible) their first and second tweak seemed to do nothing, but the third rear sight tweak was the charmer:
My shots are still pushing right, but I figured a simple change of ammo could alone change that, so suffice it to say I was “OK” with the groups from this gun; again I think it was a lot to do with ammo and a bit with the sights. Yes, it is a “combat” gun, and yes, at almost all street and HD distances this is more than acceptable accuracy (remember the 7 yard group). However, I wanted those groups halved. More on that later.
I shot 9 rounds right handed, and 9 more left handed-deliberately “limp-wristing” the gun, trying to incite a jam with each hand.
When fire right handed, I left the gun torque to the left even (roll sideways and up in my palm). It did not jam during any one handed shooting, again, to my pleasant surprise (90 rounds no cleaning).
Ended the session with a series of double taps WHICH WERE VERY FAST. Wow!
Yes, I was surprised how quickly and accurately I could rip them (albeit this was not “hot” harder recoiling ammo) but still-a single action trigger goes a looooong way towards boosting speed and accuracy. It sounded like a sub-gun on 2 round burst-very nice!
Also no jams.
Interesting facts throughout the session…even though now liberally oiled, the gun actually began having problems loading from a full, 8 round magazine, from the slide stop when locked back after the magazine went empty.
Here’s what that looks like:
However, even from this position, just simply pulling back the slide to full stop and letting it “slingshot” forward solved the problem (yes, even from the jam) which makes me feel a little better. Also, there was one failure to go into battery (at about round 50). Strangely, despite oil and wearing, as the gun got dirtier the first round from a fully loaded 8 round mag from slide lock became an “all the time” problem and consistently after the 50 + round mark.
As if to spite me, the next day the gun, cold and dirty, and with no additional oil added from the other day's range session-the gun WOULD strip from slide stop on a fully loaded mag cleanly, leading me to believe that the heat from shooting may have actually had an impact when grime was added to the mix (again, the gun is pretty tight fitting out of the box).
(Author’s note: Even today-now a week later without cleaning/oiling, the gun fed perfectly off of slide stop and the 8 round magazine from hand cycle).
Now, I’ve shot a lot of different 1911’s, and have had a lot of 1911’s jam with these magazines, so I can’t help but feel these 8 round magazines are somewhat of the root cause of it.
I think they just don’t look right on this type of pistol (I prefer the mag to be flush esthetically-but who doesn’t appreciate and extra round?).
The lack of taper (IMHO) on the leading edge of the lips may seem to play a factor (and from what I have read on 1911 mags and reliability).
With only 7 rounds in it, reliability is increased tremendously from the slide stop and combat reloads.
Further, I *think* it is part of the problem that plagues all 1911s with barrels less than 5 inches... RUNWAY.
These are two pictures (friend’s Colt on left) from the slide locked back. The full size 5 inch 1911 has more “runway” to get the slide velocity up and moving against the spring tension, and uses that added momentum to drive the cartridge home with more authority. The 4.25 inch Commander is a compromise (forgive the photo angle; they are both the same slide size). I tend to feel any barrel shorter than 4 inches, in any 1911, begins to compromise the ability to consistently deliver ammo even further, and it becomes more “sensitive” to magazine and recoil springs (maybe even bullet weight, since-lighter bullets are easier to push up quicker as slide velocities increase/runway decreases?)
*Please note, this 8-rounder styled magazines depicted in this article is a style that has also caused me trouble in 5 inch barreled 1911s as well, stripping from a fully loaded mag at slide stop.
The bottom line?
This is an excellent gun for the money, it gets you into the 1911 game, and there is nowhere to go but “up” with break-in and minor mods over time.
But if you plan on betting your life on it?
Well…I may get lambasted for this, but if you have a budget and need a defensive handgun, might I suggest…another gun.
There are plenty of guns in the same price range (but not style/caliber perhaps) that will run out of the box with better sights, higher capacity, feed hollow points, and w/o having to run boxes of ammo for breaking it in either.
If your heart is set? And you have to?
Please at least buy the 5 inch full size model.
Research and find the best mags you can and buy them, or load the 8 rounder with 7 and plus one it (for 8 rather than 9 in the gun max total) and your reloads should have 7 in them, NOT 8 (with these magazines).
Break it in HARD (maybe even dry to loosen it up?) for 200-500 rounds.
Polish the feed ramp (either professionally or properly yourself) and maybe the mag lips while you are at it if you insist on using the factory 8 round mags.
Run FMJ in it exclusively (or a really well rounded HP-and then 100-200 rounds of THAT to make sure it feeds it).
Clean it well (and the magazine), and oil/grease it lightly, and regularly as it evaporates and gathers dust.
Future? Purchase a more reliable 8 round magazine, polish throat/ramp by hand.
This will add maybe another $40 to it, and make it a “good” beater/shooter into a slightly “gooder” one.
Now, guilty confession time...
I am excited about this gun…way more than my Glock-or any Glock right now.
The nostalgia, heft, and caliber give it its own beauty…
Picture the black & white late movie…the private eye poking his big nose down a dark & grimy alley where it doesn’t belong with just his wits and trusty .45.
Think of how iconic this ledgend is, in both film and TV?
Starsky from “Starsky & Hutch”
James Caan using the Miami Vice (later) high search in “Thief” with a 1911…
or hell Nick Nolte charging down the alley after Gantz in “48 Hours...”
The only thing next to “as cool” would probably be the twin .38 Colt Cobras Lee Marvin had as Detective Lieutenant Frank Ballinger in “M-squad…”
But I have digressed… oh, wait a minute…
Bill Maxwell, FBI, from the “Greatest American Hero?” Showing his penchant for immense trigger discipline?
(Google/Youtube video of “The Hit Car” for a cool 1911 shootout [30:41] [36:00])
And wait, of course-how could I forget- Magnum PI ?!!?
(despite it being a 9mm in order to work with blanks).
The .45 1911 is one of THE great American Icons, visited to this day through movie, TV, etc. To deny it, argue it, or whatever…you will find no success in these historic and heartfelt memories from me growing up.
It is the more modern, venerable pistol to the Colt .45 Peacemaker revolver for modern day cowboys and cops (at least here in Texas).
This is my fun gun right now.
But I mess with things…try to make them better; but could I make it more trustworthy with some handy work myself?
Could I get it to the point where it could be carried and work 100% of the time with a full load of defense ammo?
Hmmm…it is definitely throwback (but not throwaway). It will also absolutely will never be “tacti-cool.”
But NOT "tacti-cool," in this day and age, maintains a timeless beauty, all of its own.
'Well two very special boxes of self-defense rounds arrived, recommended to me from ARFCOM due to their FMJ Ball profile, to enhance feeding in standard 1911-type forearms.
So yes, I finally cleaned the ATI “Commander” thoroughly after it's 150 round workout, If you were wondering about what the "wear" marks look like, here are some pictures once cleaned up (remember in Part 1 I added copious amounts of oil-but could have potentially ran a little dry over the 150 round /two weeks):
I even took care to check the grip screws (which I always recommend). And of course, 3 of the 4 were loose, and none had any Loctite on them (this should not necessarily reflect poorly on ATI, as many pistols have shipped like this as I have found it to occur from VERY high end makers):
To my surprise, they are wood-I really thought they were plastic (especially at this price point) as found on some other “lower-end” 1911s.
Another full point for ATI. I will keep them now and not swap them (maybe).
So off to the store to procure the non-permanent blue Loctite (which is now in a red tube, which is a bit strange).
After cleaning the screws (grimy) I applied the Loctite.
1. Use the right sized screwdriver to avoid marring;
2. Apply Locktite to the threading, and if you place too much on one screw, "share" it with the other screw threads;
3. Use your finger first to gently begin to screw it into place to avoid stripping the threads mistakenly;
4. Apply torque gently with the screwdriver once snug, again so as not to strip the threads-and let it “settle” for a few minutes, then give it one more gentle turn to snug up the threads fully. If you use too much pressure, you will strip the threads and potentially the frame (possibly);
5. Give a day to dry.
OK, the defensive ammo, both “state of the art” premium hollow points. In order left to ']Federal Premium “Tactical” HST (HST), 230 grains; Remington Golden Saber (GS), 185 Grains; Ball Ammo, 230 grain (reference):
Here they are from the business end:
From their profiles, I had high expectations from the Golden Sabers, especially since they were lighter grains. I would assumed they would feed and “come up” quicker on the feed ramp and into the chamber.
Here it is manually “pushed” into the common jam you must be completely familiar with the loading/unloading process of your own gun and as described here, as well as safely clearing jams. Always point the gun in a safe direction, and assume it is always loaded. Lest we forget, here is what these cartridges must face as they traverse from the magazine, up and over speed bumps and roadblocks, and ultimately into the chamber (sometimes):
Combined, this is what the cartridge must overcome:
Blue arrow shows travel out of magazine:
Mark your test round with a Sharpie pen (you will see why in a minute):
I started off by letting the pistol strip from slide lock, with just one hollow point in the factory magazine.
No problem! Both the HST and GS fed like charms! Dang fine start!
Then I ran two sets of fully loaded magazines (8 full rounds), and tried to load each from slide stop...
Neither HP would feed.
Pulling the slide back (fully) from slide stop, and using the "slingshot method" also resulted in a solid jams for both HPs.
Strangely, by pulling the slide from the closed position (on an empty chamber with the full 8 round mag) and vigorously letting it slam forward it *sometimes* worked, but I would never bet my life on this happening when I need it the most. NEVER.
Just to make sure it was the HPs, I tried a full 8 round mag loaded with 230 ball from slide stop-and it fed flawlessly.
So why mark your testing rounds? Which one of these looks a little bit shorter than the other?
Compressed bullets can also cause SEVERE pressure spikes, and “kabooms,” even after reuse from XX-amount of chamberings that don’t jam.
Again, proceed at your own risk. I would recommend if you have one round jam, dispose of it legally, and not attempt to fire it.
So. No Joy…well, wait-remember in the last segment, I reported how much better the 8 round factory magazines worked with 7 rounds in them?
Well, guess what?
Loading 7 rounds of either HST or GS into a magazine, and loading from the handicapped slide stop position resulted in the same thing:
Please note, you almost “hear” the slide “chug” just the tiniest bit compared to when you use ball ammo. It literally appears to load slower-but it does load, and did it every time.
Again, my guess is the added spring pressure (on 8 rounds) causes not only more bullet “nose dive” downward (addesd drag) but requires more energy drag on the slide to strip the round against the mag lips.
I am guessing, that defensively, the hot setup would be 7 in the mag and 1 in the pipe, for a total of 8 live rounds (as previously mentioned).
With modern hollow points like the HST and GS, that is still some serious business.
Next installment, I will take these HPs out to the range, to see if they function 100% during live fire (which I am guessing they will).
Further, I ordered some Wilson 47D stainless steel magazines which I will also test to see how they run at full (8 +1) capacity:
Additionally, I will consider a homemade "polish" job, just to slick things up a bit.
Until then, I hope you enjoyed this installment, and let me know what you think
Very interesting... I’m not kidding. I really did not think I would learn much from this adventure, chose a fun gun for dirt cheap, and looked upon it as in inexpensive way to punch paper in near half inch holes.
Yet, to legitimately increase the feeding reliability of a 1911 to now make it "bet your butt" ready? On the cheap?
While doing some research, I discovered this clunky, stiff, “proud” little item called the disconnector:
A YouTube video showed how a gunsmith had worked a radius on part of the slide's bottom to allow it to more easily slip over it during the slide stroke, as opposed to just simply relying upon the nipple’s rough bevel as the right angle slammed into it (I will actually get into this in another part to this series).
I thought, well I’m NOT going a gunsmith route, and I don’t want to cut medal-yet-so let me try just some old fashioned Rem oil (not the other sexy synthetic stuff I have-I want to keep this off the shelf for you folks at home on a budget). I let it soak into the disconnector, using a tool to plunge it in and out to get the oil alongside of it. The gritty little creature became smoother (just barely). I also took the time to really re-clean the rails, and add additional oil on to the recoil spring guide rod, and the inside of the spring cap.
You will never guess what happened?
The factory magazine began to feed both the Federal 230 grain HSTs and Golden Saber hollow points from a fully loaded 8 round magazine, from the slide stop!
I was amazed-and somewhat disappointed- that such a simple cure of “additional oil” to a few more spots (the gun was already pretty wet) made that much difference.
I am used to Glocks 'vich are like "Oil me up-or don't oil me up. Use me 'vet, or dry...You 'vant me clean...? Or not-I don't care..." (think of the voice Madeline Kahn used from Blazing Saddles-you catch my drift).
Also, my Wilson 47D magazines arrived, so it seemed like a fine time to see how they would work on the range-but since the gun was now eating hand-fed hollows manually from the additional oil off of a full 8 round FACTORY mag, I guess I wasted my money on the Wilson’s, right?
OK, so off to the range today!
Well I squared off at the 25 yard line, loaded the first 8 round factory clip stuffed with the HSTs …ummm I mean mag, I mean magazine-yes! That!
Two things I noticed immediately-wow this is significantly more potent ammo, with the gun rocking stoutly from my seated, and rested (on a box) grip. The 1911 C@lt Copy-annder spat 230 bricks of bowel shaking lead chunks the size of basketballs downrange, rocking my girly-man hands!
And about every other round the gun started jamming…
Oh, did you notice my street level Silver Sharpie “Hi-Vis” Texas Tony Junkyard special pistol sites? Laugh it up, they work pretty well, considering the price (which this is kind of about).
A slap to the rear of the slide generally worked, or pulling back on the slide and letting it rip forward-got the gun back in the game-but it WAS NOT RELIABLE.
With the factory magazine, out of 9 HST rounds, maybe 3-4 were NOT jams.
Running the 185 grain Golden Saber in the factory mag only produced one jam, right after the first shot (again, 8 round magazine-I am convinced if the mag had only 7, it would not have jammed).
Again though, it still jammed...
Only trust live fire for testing the reliability for self defense and hunting firearms, (especially for the end user to do this, especially if slight of stature).
Again, looking at the GS in profile, you can clearly see it is slightly superior in this regard for feeding:
That is important, and despite more muzzle blast (both rounds produced muzzle flames) than the HST rounds, it bears repeating.
Also, as an added bonus, they seemed a bit more accurate based upon the 25 yard GS group on the right (though this test was less about accuracy than proper feeding).
OK, so the factory mags kind of stank with the self-defense ammo.
And the HST’s jammed A LOT more than the GS from the factory magazine.
I think, with the religious oil and cleaning regimen, as we stand, the GS 185 grain with only 7 in the factory mag, and 1 in the pipe is a solid defensive competitor in this 1911 price range. Still though, definite room for improvement…
Well, I figured it was time for the Wilson 47Ds to enter the fray.
They look good, and that follower resists “nose-diving,” greatly, and note the scallop…hmmm these are pretty
Local gun shop had them for $39 each, but Brownells had a sale for like $26 plus shipping, FWIW.
Loaded 8 rounds of HST, inserted into magwell…and...what is this?
They would not seat!!?!?
DANG IT!! A swift hard, slap to the bottom seated it, leading me to think this thing is not going to strip round 8 upon firing round 9 in the chamber-just no way!! The spring pressure is going to be off the charts!
So what happened, dear readers...?
Boredom. The 47Ds fed both HST and GS rounds flawlessly without a hiccup, bump, or burp (though the HSTs felt clunkier).
There is nothing more to say here, other than after the initial rounds through the chuggy factory mag, the remaining 42 rounds of HST and 16 rounds of GS blew through her like crap through Aimless's latest feathered conquest.
So, the round count is now 224, and I am feeling she is close to fully broken in, and the reliability with the Wilson Combat 47Ds is 100%, at least from my limited testing of 50+ hollowpoint HST & GSs.
Next step will be running a bit more GS through it fully loaded (9 rounds) multiple times to see if I can induce a jam or two-but I don’t think it will happen-but I will try. Maybe bone dry?
Well, and later on to that, some polishing by hand to increase reliability.
So YMMV, but this .45 Commander from the Philippines seems like a pretty capable beast for things that go bump in the night, as long as you are utilizing the 47D magazine and loaded with 8-9 rounds of Golden Saber under the hood.
I am starting to think you could actually start to bet your life on this thing...
Well, I just could not wait for the extra ammunition to arrive.
Friends who know me would just state I can't leave something well enough alone...
Friends? Meh! Who needs 'em!
So I decided to shine up my $290 ATI “Philimmander.”
Besides, I had already proven 100% reliability at the range with both the 230 grain HST and 185 Golden Saber rounds fed through the ubiquitous 8 round Wilson Combat's 47D.
I felt it was time for some elbow grease!
I picked up fine sandpaper (800 grit), I had a free sample of Flitz polishing compound laying about, and some Q-tips.
This work was done strictly “on the cheap” without the use of a dremel. No high end stuff here!
Just a brief trip to Lowes for $8.00 worth of materials (sand paper). I used scissors to cut the pieces of sandpaper and used Gorilla Tape to hold it in place on the Sharpie pen, to use as the tool to work the ramps.
Here is what I was facing:
The Speed bump:
Now, in all fairness, they both looked good to the naked eye, and felt smooth to my touch (though after examining these photos they look rougher than I thought).
The 800 grit is fine-and wears out after several strokes (I’d still be cautious here-the idea is to smooth metal-not remove it; further, if you screw up your piece, or blow your warranty-again, you are on your own my friends).
After a few strokes I began to see this:
And after a bit more work, I began to see this:
The Flitz really just lightly polishes, and removes very little to almost nothing (it may not even be necessary if you have 1000 grit sand paper).
It really did not take long before it was a pretty fine looking mirror like polish:
A little dab of the Flitz white paste on the Q-tip, and some rubbing would eventually turn the white head a darker shade; a sign that is was certainly doing something.
Now to the barrel, using the same sandpaper/Sharpie technique:
Not satisfied, I decided to push my luck (note friends reading this and their lack of surprise).
I do not recommend this to y'all yet, since there could be repercussions to the disconnector over time-and who knows what might happen if not done correctly.
If the gun one day becomes a runaway-please remember I told you NOT to do this.
The bottom portion of the slide, when trying to strip a fresh round, slows down quite a bit when it hits the disconnector speed bump-quite literally- this little guy:
And this is where the little guy hits:
I decided to gently improve the angle here, this time using some 320 fine sandpaper, and then Flitz.
I did not want to shave too much off, just round it a bit, making sure it was as even as my eyes could determine (I will observe the disconnector to make sure it does not show signs of tweaking after some rounds). I may also go back and work on it some more though.
After that, I Flitz'ed the breech face, just trying to smooth it up gently to facilitate the cartridge case rim when sliding up under the extractor during the 1911 loading procedure.
How does it feel after less than 45 minutes of work?
Hand cycling rounds feels definitely a bit smoother. Also fed the last 8 Golden Sabers I have with no problem, even from and old battered 7 round magazine. I know improvements have definitely been made, so the only test now will be to see if the original factory magazine will feed 8 hollow points flawlessly (remember I had jams previously with it and the hollow points) at the range.
Flawless feeding with the HPs from that factory magazine under fire will prove my handiwork and if I have improved the overall reliability of the gun.
$4 in sandpaper
= $321 (not including shipping & FFL fees)
For $321 bucks I have a 'slick as snot 1911 "Commander" that will soon be feeding anything I can stuff it with. And I am going to test it further
BTW, here is what the ‘Mander looks like with a proper 7 round flush magazine (esthetically, I think this looks much better, accentuates the gun's "pug" lines, and reduces the carry size a bit):
I KNOW this thing is more reliable now; but how reliable?
I guess that is for Part V...
The saga continues!
The ammunition arrived. Combined with another brick of American Eagle 230 FMJ, and a couple of boxes of Golden Saber 185 grain HPs (GSHP), today was going to be busy!
Also dug up and old, tired, but factory original Colt magazine (cent of pic).
The range day protocols:
All firing was done at the 25 yard line from a seated position, arms rested outstretched on the table, utilizing a pistol box for a solid support (except for the combat shooting), and the target's blue circle is 3 inches in diameter. My strings of fire were shot briskly-no squeezing or breathing techniques-I just lined up the sights (and remember these are not the best sights), and squeezed off the round. Point being, if I had slowed down I could have extracted a bit more accuracy. Again, I think with new sights and taking some real time-or from a rest, the gun is capable of shrinking its groups by another 15-20% (best guess).
And so, we begin; I wanted to start off with the one older than dirt Colt factory 7 round magazine, the ATI factory magazine, and another one of the same make from yet another 1911 from the Philippines (Rock Island Armory; and yes, that magazine caused problems too-gun long since sold). Both are from the exact same company, with the exact same problems-also both very lightly used.
So the first magazine was the Colt, and I noticed the spring was pretty weak when loading it-no high hopes here-and yet still loaded 7+1 in the chamber; let’s see if the prancing pony can prance 8 times in a row with the GSHPs… and whoa!!
The gun went bang, 7+1 times. Cool! Off to a hot start!
Next out of the gate, I wanted to test the two "problem children" mags that are all seemingly sold with all factory Philippine 1911 manufactures.
With 8 rounds of GSHP (which had caused some trouble prior in these magazines), my thoughts & feelings would be if they ran after my previous ministrations to the “Philimander,” i.e., through the simple handiwork of sandpaper, it would be proof positive that a definitive improvement could be made at just the cost of materials found at Lowes or Home Depot.
Obviously, I had high hopes, and as I am usually always right, and truly, rarely wrong; in fact, 99 times out of 100, I’m right, and that other 1 time-the guy is lying
I knew great things were ahead of me as I sent the magazine homeward bound.
So I proceed to release the slide stop and let it sing home, ramming the 185 grain steamroller into the chamber. ”CLINK!” as the slide rode!! Rode? Road? WAT?
The slide stopped solidly
IT WENT nowhere! Failure to feed!
That was a “CLUNK” not a “CLINK” that reached my heavily muffled ears.
Well, maybe the other Rock Island factory magazine will work?
DOUBLE DOG DANG IT x 87%!!!
Removing the 8th round, and letting the slide go forward on from slide stop on just 7 rounds, resulted in it feeding with both magazines of GSHPs without a hitch, all cycling flawlessly as long as there was only 7 rounds in the 8 round factory magazine. Now, this is an improvement over the clunky feeding the GSHPs caused in the magazine from the last test. If you recall the Federal 230 grain HSTs jammed more frequently with the factory mag, but the GSHPs had less problems-but still had issues.
(Total Golden Saber rounds fired: 25)
I followed up with another 25 rounds of American Eagle 230 FMJ as well, using the same magazines (I was shooting a low POA here).
I did not want to test these magazines anymore. I have to stand on my original statement if you run them fully loaded, you could be at risk for a jam. If you run HPs, this makes the risk even more prevelant. I think they have a flaw in them, and when you push them at 100%, you use them at your own peril. At like 80% of capacity they work 100% with FMJs. Again this is again has been my experience, with two separate guns, and two separate magazines.
Further, I really don’t want to spend a tremendous amount of money shooting high end HPs at paper, so next I ran an additional 40 rounds of 230 grain FMJ through 5 Wilson magazines, flawlessly.
Cheap B$trd Pro Tip:
Load one magazine with 8 rounds of FMJ, chambering it from slide stop; engage safety, Drop the magazine, and top off the magazine with 1 GSHP (or HP of your choosing).
Fire one round of 230 FMJ, and see if gun cycles cleanly from capacity, or jams with top round of GSHP (which I believe is the biggest link for a jam-the combined magazine pressure of being fully loaded, etc). If the gun doesn’t jam (and it never did with the 47Ds), eject the GS HP from the chamber, and load the next FMJ from the magazine.
Place the once chambered GSHP to the side, using a fresh one for each mag to avoid dreaded setback. Run the mag, repeat. Now you could shoot the GSHP to make it easier, but I was concerned with overall groupings from the gun with each ammo, and did not want to mix them up when punching paper.
The Philimander was fed 5 more fully loaded 47D magazines, and 40 more rounds of 230 FMJ, and of course, never missing a beat. Further it chambered the 5 GSHPs as well, with not a hint of drama.
Again, rested, but shot quite quickly (higher POA):
From here, I went to the silhouette, running 2 more magazines of 7+1 (16) more FMJ via the old Colt mag, working on 7 yard double taps (really fast); again no problems (albeit FMJ).
This last part will be to “stress” the Philimander’s ability to feed now.
It will be dirty, and probably a bit dry, and now required it to fire hollow points:
A big difference from before, eh?
I ran 4 more 47D magazines-35 more rounds, in 8+1 round configurations (except the last mag) for speedy double taps at approximately 10-11 feet, “moving.”
Meaning going from a high search extended grip, raising it to the target and as soon as acquiring sight picture, squeezing twice, then lowering back to a high search, and then raising again-always moving. Continued till slide lock.
With the exception of the 2 "earrings" on the right, I am pretty happy with this group out of a .45 with full pot loads (making 400lbs +/- of energy), and firing the gun as quickly as I could. The recoil impulse was soft, and the gun naturally came back to target. Stepping solidly onto the soapbox (creak), single action semi-automatic triggers are a tremendous boon to speed and accuracy-critical aspects in defensive handguns; it does come with a cost IMHO. Any firearm with a manual safety, requires more training (just as a gun with a de-cocker), and even with a ton of training, under maximum stress it can be forgotten, missed, or fumbled with loss of gross motor skills.
As an aside, I think without a doubt the 1911’s manual safety is the finest of any on the pistol planet. As you go to grip the gun during draw, your right thumb naturally releases it (just make sure the safety clicks off and finger graces the trigger when on target-you not being the target).
It is simply “the best,” and quite frankly, does not need to be the size of a Peterbuilt’s gas pedal, nor be ambidextrous (I won’t go into my opinion here now-just suffice it to say I don’t like them, have had them fail, etc.) unless you are a lefty, or dual wield 1911 pistol’s for a living.
The Philimander’s safety is the perfect size for me (though I wish the rearward portion was less proud and made a bit smoother).
Also, since I am in soapbox mode, I was using the silhouette head because I wanted a smaller aiming point to concentrate on, hit, and gauge my success/failure rate. To try and make double taps like this in real life on that target area runs the real life chance of missing-and probably a lot more missing than hitting on a target intent on harming you. As you train and are trained, please go for center of mass to stop the threat, as YOU are responsible for lost rounds, and all liability that carries with a self defense shooting.
So, remember my 2 "earrings,” and do not think you will "rise to the occasion" during a deadly force encounter. If you believe that, it is akin to relying on luck to save your life and loved ones. And luck is great, as long as it is on your side, and not theirs. Use skill, mindset, practice, and training to foster that-and with that, comes familiarity, ownership of action, and responsibility (stepping off soapbox).
So, this will be an additional 140+ rounds though the gun for this range session, with no cleaning or oiling in between. This and brings the total round count to: 370 (+/-).
With this test, I feel I have proven this gun to be 100% reliable within the limited confines of this test (47D mag, GSHP).
If you want to spring the $$$ for me to run a 1,000 round torture test, I will gladly shoot it in the interest of “science”
I handled a full size 1911 (5 inch barrel) the other day.
And while I would still recommend the full size over the Commander (4 ¼ inch barrel) to help some of the issues previously mentioned, I just do not enjoy the feel of it anymore when compared.
It feels extremely “nose heavy” which adds to the gun feeling like it weighs more than it actually does (obviously, a full size will weigh more than a Commander) and obviously, the velocity increases (if that is important to you). The muzzle weight can aid in follow up shots (or cause the gun to "flop" more depending on your grip style). These are marginal based upon my particular shooting style.
And in case you were wondering, the weight difference in the slide is real; a stock full size 1911 spring is rated at 16 lbs., and the Commander is rated at 18 pounds, heavier I am guessing to increase unlocking and slow down the lighter slide during it's impulse, and to aid reliability due to the shorter stroke.
The Commander series 1911 just feels so much more balanced to me, and “point-able.” And of course, just a bit more comfortable to conceal, and looks more attractive to me than the full size.
Looking around at 1911’s is like looking at German automobiles a lot these days. Even the mid-range ones are expensive. The high-end ones will make your nose bleed.
Something to note with the “Philimander,” and just a reminder from my past reviews:
The rear sight required significant movement to get POA (point of aim) to match POI (point of impact).
Sights not moved yet:
The 47Ds require a solid “thwack” to seat when fully loaded on a closed slide. I ran these magazines through a friend’s Colts, and they had similar issues there as well.
Please note this is due to the tight tolerances of this Wilson magazine, not a problem with the gun. The Wilsons are very precisely built, so slightly different tolerances between gun and magazine can be expected; this also may reduce with time, and usage (remember these mags of mine are brand new). The fact is, in my limited findings, the 47Ds are the most important improvement you can make to a box-factory 1911 gun. You can get dang near guaranteed 8+1 rounds of HPs out of them-just by them alone (YMMV).
The finish is rough looking, but not strong.
While showing it (empty of course) to a colleague, he ended up trying to take it apart, and before someone could yell “Get the hell out of there Tony!” (one person actually ran from the room while he was fiddling with it), it was all I could do to don my sexy sunglasses as suddenly parts exploded all about the room-the slide hitting the carpeted floor “vigorously.”
I’ve learned two things:
1. Never hand anybody anything-ever. If you never ever do that, they will just never ever drop, break, or dismantle anything they should not be. If you have to hand anybody anything ever, hand them and ice cream cone or gummy bears.
2. See 1. Damage mitigated.
Let’s still remember this is in fact a rough duty gun that you should not be afraid to wear and get it scratched. Carrying this gun, using a holster and drawing, will wear the finish quickly-which will have no effect on its ability to function. It is designed and sold at a price point built for the dirty end of the pool.
The ladies will not swoon, the bling guys will not blink, and no one will make an internet meme about it.
It is meat and potatoes, unleaded gasoline, salt & pepper seasoning, you know? The “No 2” pencil of the writing community...I think you catch my drift
And the best parts? Is it works at a great price point (but for how long? RIAs have already climbed price-wise), and as it works, it only gets better-and of course is upgradable.
And with some really easy handiwork, you will have a reliable weapon that meets YOUR criteria of a 1911, and .45 ACP.
So, riddle me this:
Is it better to eat Ramen noodles for a year to save and spend $1,000+/- dollars on a pretty 1911 for defense that you only put 50 rounds a year down (maybe) and rub with a diaper nightly, ruing the first scratch or blemish, or save to spend $300 dollars on a 1911 with $700 left over for a decent holster, a couple of Wilson 47Ds, and enough ammo (at least 200-300 FMJs + 50-100 of your defensive HPs) to break it in and train with, making sure it works and you work with it?
I hope you all enjoyed (or at least tolerated) this in depth review, and possibly learned from it (as I did, and all during it).
Very nice thank you, I just shot a buddies ati with threaded barrell this weekend. Really liked it and am going to pick one up for a host gun.
You have no idea how much time I just spent reading that... Well done, good Arf-specific references in there, and makes me wanna get another 1911. I currenly have Kimber Target II stainless, that I bought about 10 years ago. I'd like another.
ETA: And it makes an excellent 932'nd post.
Excellent write up.
Now I need to try wilsons in my RIA.
Duracoated mine to help with rust and wear.
As I said before, a great series worth the time to read for sure.
One last pop to the top, and I will put it to bed
Bought the ATI 1911 a few months back when PSA had the sale and then found this review. It was a great and helpful read. I thank you very much sir...but my burning eyes from reading dont. J/K.
Great article. I need to do the same thing to a certain pistol but just have been using any excuse to not start the work. Just one tip on the original magazines and others of that same type; load the mag with 8 rounds and set it aside for a week. Typically it will then work fine.