I ripped open the zipper on the case catching my breath and smiling as the grip came into view, the rest of the firearm concealed by black leather. Tenderly, I eased it from the case.
I'd been waiting for this day for weeks, ever since I decided I needed another firearm to accompany to our defensive handgun class. I had been content with my Kimber Ultra CDP as a carry gun but after pulling a tendon in my hand after only 350 rounds down-range in two days I was certain that the 600 rounds required for my two-day class would tear my hands to pieces. With less than three months I didn't have much time to find my ideal firearm.
I was tired of main-stream guns. I worked at a gun store and I saw, handled, dismantled, shot and criticized every firearm on the shelf at least six dozens times. I knew exactly what I wanted and it wasn't on your standard gun store shelves. It would be a .45 caliber. It would be steel, therefor increasing weight and absorbing recoil. It would be made by a reputable company as to insure successful operation. It would be a firearm I could rely on. It would be one I could trust with my money, my time, my ammo, my life.
John and I briefly discussed building my own 1911, but neither of us had the time, equipment or advanced skills to pull it off in the short time before the class. Next we started saving and negotiating with Nighthawk Custom to build it. I was choking on the $2,000 plus it was going to cost but accepting that this would be a one-time purchase or a lifetime that would double as an investment.
We were moments away from closing the deal with Nighthawk when my husband called me to tell me he'd found a deal. A man was selling a brand-new Wilson Combat Professional for $1,750 including all paperwork, magazines and gun rug. My only reservations were the single-sided thumb safety as opposed to my desired ambidextrous and a bobtailed main-spring housing, but with retail at $2,200 we knew we were getting a deal. If I really wanted it, an ambi safety could easily be installed and my hands were too short for a bobtail to mess with my grip anyway so we went for it.
The next week was a SNAFU of money transfers, FFL shipping hassles and people running to and fro trying to get this firearm from the great state of Texas to Pennsylvania. It was supposed to arrive Saturday, then Monday, then Tuesday and by Wednesday we were a little eager with more phone calls and tense conversations between the seller and the shipping FFL. I was even beginning to have nightmares about the outcome of our transaction.
Thursday finally arrived and I got the phone call from a coworker that my gun was in. I don't think I could have been more excited. It was sure to be an eventful night especially since I was planning on cutting its teeth by shooting it in the defensive pistol league that night. John grabbed me a holster, spare magazines and the camera and we were off to the store.
It was like Christmas but better. My coworkers gathered round. My husband stood by with the camera snapping pictures to catch my face the moment I first saw it. Customers clustered round the counter to see what all the fuss was about.
My manager kept teasing me that he'd taking it into the range and put a couple magazines through it already but I knew he wouldn't disappoint me like that. Every one knew this was a day I'd been waiting for for weeks and they were just as excited as I was. A few regular customers even shared in my glee and told those around them to shush as they watched for my reaction to the long-awaited unveiling of the Wilson.
"Open it on the counter top," someone said while someone else said, "Over here so we can see."
When I plopped the box on the counter I was instantly swarmed with people and John started taking pictures.
The camera flashes faded into the background. The mumbling teasing and ribbing of my coworkers became white noise. My heart pounded and every centimeter of my face registered my excitement. This was the one. The machine I hand picked to be my companion. This was a moment some only dream about and I was living it.
It was cold and heavy but every bit as beautiful as I had hoped it would be. The black Armor-tuff coating made the steel look glossy, almost wet. The stainless-steel of the match-grade barrel was a striking contrast to the ink black coating of the rest of the slide and frame. Gray, wooden grips with the Wilson Combat logo centered in the panels completed the elegant ensemble and it gleamed with master craftsmanship.
The camera flashed.
I lightly ran my fingers over the cocking serrations caressing the tight groves. Instinctively my right hand curled around the grip, the checkering on the front strap and main-spring housing biting into my fingers and palm. I barely felt the grip safety disengage. My index finger lay along the serial number, poised above the trigger guard, hovering in safe territory. My left hand clamped the slide between palm and fingers and the cocking serrations gripped my flesh. The only sound as I eased the slide rearward was the "snip-snap, clack" as the hammer cocked beneath the movement of the slide. Fighting the forward pull of recoil spring I gazed down into the empty chamber of my Wilson. It gaped like an open mouth, ready to be fed, eager to harness the explosions of thousands of cartridges. It said, "Give it to me. Hold nothing back. I can take it."
The slide slingshot forward at my release with a satisfying, crisp but heavy "SHUNK!"
Again, instinctively, my right thumb eased up and I heard and felt the thumb safety engage with a clean, "Snap!" It disengaged just as cleanly and I sighed a little in pleasure.
Next, my fingers worked over the rest of the gun fondling its perfection. The checkering was the perfect balance between sharp and dull. The stippling on the mainspring housing was a beautiful as it was functional. The joints between the grip safety and the frame were so smooth you'd hardly know they were there. Even the slant of the serrations on the magazine release matched the angle of the grip. Every joint, every angle, every piece, fit together seamlessly as though the firearm was a single piece of molded steel and not a functioning machine.
Customers and coworkers fawned around me at my prize. The compliments came from all directions and I continued to grin, hardly hearing them.
The introduction having been made, it was now time to see if he was as functional as he was beautiful. Clearing the firearm a second time I went about a standard 1911 functionality test. Grip safety, thumb safety and sear disconnect all worked. It was time for the first dry-fire and I paused at the crucial moment.
Being some-what of a trigger snob I had insisted that my trigger be crisp, clean, short and light. This would be the moment that would either make or break my entire evening and I dived in confidently.
Hammer back, safety off, grip safety disengaged, I pointed the muzzle at the floor and placed my finger on the glossy black, skeletonized trigger. My finger lightly brushed through the trigger play and instantly I found myself at trigger break.
There was a hush around me.
One pound of pressure.
I think everyone in a ten foot radius was holding their breath.
A chill of pleasure ran up my arm and my smile stretched from ear to ear. I think I even moaned a little. "It's BEAUTIFUL!" I exclaimed.
Almost simultaneously the requests started pouring in from both sides of the counter, "Let me try it," "Give it here," "I want to see."
When it was my managers turn he summed it up with, "That is almost orgasmic."
Laughter roared through the crowd.
After all of the paperwork was completed and the background check run, my manager gave me a box of ammo with which to try him out for the first time. A gift for my special day. The crowd that circled around the gun counter as I unpacked Wilson from his shipping fluff had moved to the window of the range but only John and I went in. It was quiet beneath the hearing protection and the close quarters of the stall made me feel alone and private even though half the store was looking on behind the safety of two inches of bullet proof glass.
Magazine after magazine of cartridges exploded through him as gracefully as a fish through water. The excess weight in the front of the gun provided by the bulled barrel compensated for muzzle flip and while I allowed Wilson to rebound gracefully, concentrating only on accuracy, he remained level and true when I needed him to be.
As I suspected, the bobtail was not even the slightest hindrance.
Whatever pleasure I found in Wilson's performance on the night he became mine was tripled at my defense class. Through hundreds of rounds he was accurate, fast, steady and solid in my hands. With his help I was top of the class, even as the only woman, shooting beside twelve other men of varying backgrounds, some in military and law enforcement. It was then that he graduated from training gun to carry gun. I couldn't see trusting my life with any other firearm after he'd proved himself so completely to me.
For two years now Wilson has rarely left my side and even when he has I have always gone back to him eagerly and happily. I find it hard to repress a smile when I open the safe and see the yellow and green glow of his tritium powered night sights guiding me to him. My sense of responsibility mounts as I look at him and doubles as he settles into a holster on my hip. I know he'll preform only as I ask him to but exactly as he was machined to should I require him and that satisfies me.
There are people who will consider me crazed for speaking so fondly of a firearm, but I find it no different than those who speak warmly of their car, a house, a bicycle, camera or television. We all have things, machines, that serve a purpose in our lives, whether that purpose is to entertain, transport, protect or thrill us. Wilson's job is to defend me and those I love. I have no doubt he will preform as flawlessly as he has in training. Though I take great joy in our training together, my only hope is that he is never needed.