Saturday, June 20, 2009

Carrying a Gun and a Baby

I have gotten a number of emails from mothers and father and even interested parents-to-be on the mechanics of carrying a baby and a gun. I've tried expressing that it is not as intimidating as it appears and finally I made a video to show just how easy it really can be.

There are a few things, however, I would like to emphasis when it comes to carrying a child and a gun.

Firstly, I want to address safety. Contrary to popular belief, most gun owners are very responsible, safe people who have the very best for themselves and their families in mind. But! We all know that mistakes occur and this is why I have come up with a few ground rules beyond the regular four rules of gun safety to insure my child is completely safe in my care (both from the bad guys and from accidents).

  1. When dealing with firearms, do so in another room, separate and safe from your children. We all know that kids can grab, move, jump, yank at the most unexpected of times and even if they don't get their hands on a gun, something they do can startle a parent into being careless enough for an accident to occur.
  2. Put your holster on, put your gun on, get them set, then go to your children and don't touch your firearm or holster again unless you cannot avoid it. Don't fidget with or adjust or work with your gun or your set up while your children are around (see no. 1).
  3. MAKE SURE your holster is of good quality and that the trigger guard of your firearm is completely enclosed. Small fingers and toes, toys and do-dads can get into small spaces and while you are wrestling with diaper bags, children, toys, bottles, pacifiers, wipes, temper tantrums, owies, band-aids and sippy cups, you might not always notice the hazards that can slip into an exposed trigger guard. Anything within your trigger guard other than your finger when your sights are on their target is BAD. Conversly, a gun cannot fire if the trigger is not pressed. Keep your trigger guard guarded with a quality holster and avoid accidents.
Finally, years of media coverage of childhood firearms accidents and Million Mom March speaches and even the NRA's Eddie Eagle campaign have instilling in us the understanding that children and firearms do not mix. We are so convinced of this that even pictures of a mother holding a child with a gun on her hip make us cringe, no matter how pro-gun we proclaim to be.

Yes, it is true, children and firearms do not mix, but that does not mean they cannot coexist safely with the proper supervision of parents and the strict adherence to safety rules.

This video has already been the subject of some tense comments about safety and even that while it is understood why I would want to carry a firearm it might not be a good idea to do it with a child in tow.

According to some, it's okay to protect myself. It's okay for my husband to protect himself. It's even okay for my husband to carry to protect me and my child. But it's suddenly not okay for me to protect myself AND my child at the same time.

Hmm.. I'm not quite sure I understand the logic behind that one.

I started carrying a firearm in defense against those who wish to do evil to me. People can understand and even empathise with that. People even cheer my willingness to defend myself. My child does not yet have the ability, physically, emotionally or legally, to take that responsibility on himself. He is reliant on his mother and his father to provide for him in all areas, including his protection.

Statistics from February, 2007 state that 300,000 children are abducted or reported missing each year in the US. In the same year, in the US, 248,300 women were assaulted or raped. Both my child and myself are targets for violent crime. My husband can't always be around to defend us. The police response in our neighborhood can be as much as twenty-eight minutes.

Let's pause here.

Before you read on, let's go back to the police response time.

Twenty-Eight Minutes!!

It takes an average of three minutes to suffocate a human being. It takes approximately one minute to grab my child and put him in a car. It takes less than twenty-eight minutes to get over twenty miles away in any direction. That means before the police even arrived to assess the scene of the crime, a criminal could kill me, kidnap our child and be twenty miles away before the police even BEGAN the search for the fugitive.

I want you to stop and think about that.

Some will criticise me for having a firearm and a child together under a supervised situation so that I can defend myself and my son in the event it is necessary. I don't necessarily mind the criticism. I have pretty thick skin, I know I am responsible and I know that I will be prepared in the event I should have to be (God forbid).

I am not a paranoid person (as I've said before). I do not wait for bad things to happen to me. But I know, more than some, that bad things happen in the most unexpected of times and places. I won't stand by and let those bad things happen to me and my baby just because someone thinks it's a little overboard to carry a baby and a gun.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

So You Want to Buy a 1911 (courtesy of Mr Lima)

I've had some people email me and ask me for advice on purchasing a 1911. I could either start a whole new tirade of an answer or point them in the direction of a man who already did the research, has MUCH more gun knowledge than I do, is handsome, caring, a good father and down-right HOT in cammies. Oh, he also happens to be my husband.

*insert high-schoolish giggling and blushing*

Okay, enough of that.

Seriously though. My husband wrote up a FANTASTIC five-part series on 1911s that should be in magazines. No need to repeat what the good man has to say so I'll let him do the talking.

I know it's long, but the information is invaluable.

So you want to buy a 1911 (Part 1)

So every now and then (every other week) it seems someone asks for input on which 1911 to buy, or which 1911 is best. This is going to cover most of the bases on 1911s, some of you may be reading this and thinking “Why should I give a hoot what this guy thinks or has to say?”

We’ll let me just say it now, I’m no expert, I’m not a gun smith, I’m not a professional shooter, I’m not some ex-Navy seal that’s killed umpteen million people with a 1911 and one arm tied behind my back, I’m just a prior Marine Corps Radio Tech that moderates a gun forum and has had over a dozen 1911s from different makers, some have been good, some great and some horrible, I’ve had (between the wife and I that is):

1 Llama, 2 Colts, 4 Paras, 4 Kimbers, 1 Springfield, 1 Les Baer, 1 Wilson Combat, and one Ithaca that just sits in the safe telling war stories to the other guns in it’s company. I’ve learned a lot about 1911s, shot plenty of other 1911s, and heard many a horror story about them as well has lived my own horror stories, and I’m the last person that will give a rat’s ass what you have to say about what I have to say, so let’s get to it shall we.

To say that one 1911 is better than all the others is just not accurate, some are better than others, but there is no "One 1911 to rule them all"

Before we get started, let’s take a minute to familiarize ourselves with some 1911 terminology.

Series 80: In most terms this refers to the Colt series 80 and mainly it reflects that it has a firing pin safety, most makers of 1911s incorporate this type of firing pin safety in their design. The series 80 firing pin safety incorporates a firing pin block that prevents the firing pin from moving unless the trigger is pulled. Personally, I can’t tell the difference in trigger pull, but that’s just me and I don’t obsess over what my trigger pull is, it’s sweet, that’s all that matters.

Here is a picture of the series 80 firing pin system.

Kimber uses a different firing pin safety known as the Swartz Safety that was originally used in Colt pistols (briefly) but was abandoned, this design is actuated by the depressing of the grip safety and care must be used in assembly that the grip safety is not depressed as that will cause the lifter to protrude from the frame and can be damaged by the installation of the slide.

Of the two, I prefer the Colt series 80 design as removal of it does not require the removal of the rear sight like the Swartz safety, not that I would ever advocate the removal of a safety device.

Government Model: This now a days generally refers to any 5” 1911 in standard configuration, it has the full 5” barrel with bushing (although some models do exist with the 5" bushing-less bull barrel) and full frame which will hold with modern magazines 8 rounds of ammunition.

Commander model: The original Commander model has a 4.25” bbl with bushing and full frame, several makers do not use the bushing barrel, but instead have a 4” bull barrel instead with a full frame, for Kimber this is the Pro model, and Springfield refers to it as the Champion.

CCO: This was the Concealed Carry Officers model since discontinued by Colt; this was the 4.25” upper from a Commander mated to the compact frame of the Officers model which with modern magazines hold 7 rounds. For Kimber this is the Compact model, several others make guns in this configuration or a similar variation and their nomenclature differs.

Officers: Originally this was a 3.5” barrel on a compact frame which is .5” shorter than the full frame of the Gov’t model and Commander. With modern magazines this will hold 7 rounds of ammunition. Springfield refers to this size as the “Compact” model.

Defender: This is a 3” upper on a compact frame, these models in most if not all cases will have a 3” bushing-less bull barrel. Kimber refers to this as the “Ultra”, while Springfield refers to it as the Micro, other makers have different nomenclature for guns of similar size.

I know that there are 1911 pistols with 3 inch, 4 inch , and 5 inch barrels available. Which length is the best choice for a balance of reliability, accuracy, proper ballistics performance, and concealment?
Looking at the factors you have listed:
  • Reliability
  • Accuracy
  • Ballistics performance
  • Concealment

A 5" gun will have the most accuracy and ballistic performance, but the least amount of concealment.

A 4" will have better accuracy and performance than a 3" gun, and is moderately easier to conceal.

A 3" Has the least amount of accuracy and terminal performance of the sizes, but generally is the easiest of the 3 to conceal.

Now looking at my statements, please understand that concealing a 5" gun is not a hard thing to do, a great number of people (myself included) do it every day, as a matter of fact I'm doing it right now.

So to answer your question, a new in the box, 4"-4.25" 1911 will most likely be the balance of what you desire without being currently familiar with the 1911.

The Commander sized guns are the happy man in the middle so to speak, they are not as long as the 5" so they will clear the holster more quickly, and still offer more recoil absorbing mass, while still maintaining a longer barrel and sight radius.

So here's where it gets tricky, the hardest thing to conceal on any gun, is the grip area of the firearm.

While the smaller Officers size gun have a shorter grip to ease concealment, you're cutting your slide mass, sight radius, and barrel length.

While some have no problem concealing the grip (see my bit on the 5" guns) some do.

So if you want the benefits of a Commander sized gun (4"-4.25"), but also want the benefits of an Officer's size gun (3") you need to get a gun with the Commander length slide and barrel, but has the officers size frame like the Colt CCO, and the Kimber Compact. There are other makers of this style 1911, but I'm not going to list them all for you.

Regarding magazines:
The original mags for the Government held 7 rounds, while the Officers model held 6 rounds, so how do you get 8 rounds in a 7 round mag? You chop the skirt of the follower. Generally I prefer the Tripp Research Cobra mags, Wilson 47D mags, or the newer version of Chip McCormick mags, I could probably do a whole other Blog on 1911 magazines, and probably will so I won’t go into detail, all I’m going to say in this piece is in most cases, you’re better off ditching the mags that come with your thousand dollar shooter and spend about $100 on good magazines…

…that kind of sucks doesn’t it?


So you want to buy a 1911 (Part 2)

So first let’s look at some of the different companies making 1911s, this is a really long list and it's not even complete.

I group the manufacturers in to three tiers by overall cost of their average gun.

Auto Ordnance
Charles Daly
Rock Island / Armscor

Dan Wesson
Para Ordnance
Sig Sauer

Ed Brown
Fusion Firearms
Les Baer
Rock River Arms
Wilson Combat

Pending on what you want, there are MANY fine providers of 1911s out there, of this list the only one's I would suggest to totally stay away from are the Charles Daly models, the Llama/Firestorm or any "home brew" 1911 that you may come across unless you know a thing or two about 1911s, there are many home gun smiths that can make what looks like a great 1911 that may or may not be worth the money.

To keep things simple, I'm not going into buying used, all the following info is based on the assumption that items being purchased are new in the box from a reputable dealer.

So you want a 1911? What exactly do you want? Do you want a "Government" size all steel frame, or how about carbon steel, not stainless? Do you want a light weight frame? Compact? Sub-compact? Micro?

There's a ton of different options out there regarding which size you even want and pending on what size and options you want will greatly influence the opinions given regarding what kind of 1911 you want or should buy.

If you want a basic 1911 like your Grandpa use to carry in WWII, you don't go to Kimber, if you want a 4" bushing-less bbl, on a compact frame, you don't go to Colt.

So looking at the list of manufactures above, and starting at tier 1, we'll go over some of the options.

1: Auto Ordnance
AO makes mainly GI model 1911s, and one Custom Stainless, that's not alot of options if you want a carry gun, as they are 5" guns, and if you don't want stainless, why invest in refinishing an Auto Ordnance? I have heard few complaints on the AO line and have had absolutely ZERO experience with them, most of the time they don't even get brought up when people ask for advice on which 1911 to buy, why this is I don't know, but if I recall correctly, I've only met one guy who carries one and he was very happy with it. But looking at the Custom Stainless with it's MSRP of $813, I'm not surprised that one would look elsewhere.

My pick from AO would probably be a GI model, as there’s no way I’d pay the $700ish for the Custom AO, I’d rather have the GI and put about $300 into work and probably end up with a better gun than their custom, there’s just not enough value in the AO line to justify spending over $600 IMHO.

2: Rock Island Armory
These are probably the best low budget 1911s out there IMHO, but again I don't have one, but everyone that does have one seems to love it, they do come in more than one size, and they offer a GI style model, a Tactical Model with Novak or Novak style sights, an ambi-safety, and a nice beavertail, all for on average less than $550. They also offer a compact model. Alot of the misgivings about the RIA guns is that there is no "Company" website to view the models, the guns are associated with ArmsCor and some info can be found on the ArmsCor website listed above, oddly enough the most info on RIA guns I've found as been on and the SARCO Inc. website, which unfortunately isn't working right at the moment, but usually they have a nice lay out where you can see some of the different RIA models.

If I had only $500-$600 to spend and I wanted a 5" 1911 with some of the "needed" add-ons, the RIA Tactical would probably be the gun I would buy if I didn't want to buy a used gun, as the case is I managed to find an older, used, Springfield Loaded back when they still came with a blued finish for $450 and that was my first "Real" 1911.

My pick from RIA would have to be the Rock Island Tactical, this puts you pretty close to a Springfield Loaded at a lower cost than the PT1911, all you need is some night sights and you have a damn good 1911.

3: Taurus
Taurus began making 1911 models about 2 years ago, boasting that they gave all the great smith work that the highend gun makers charge you more for. Personally, I think that's a load of crap because all those options minus the checkering are almost standard on the center piece gun of the major players, you look at the Springfield Loaded models, the Kimber Pro Carry II or Custom II, the SIG GSR, or the S&W 1911s, and all those things are standard.

It doesn't change the fact that Taurus' just cost less than any other major gun maker, if you compare a Beretta 92FS and a Taurus PT92, or a Taurus revolver and a S&W revolver and you'll see why there's a price difference, the same can be said of the PT1911. I'm not bashing the gun, I think it's great that there's a lower cost 1911 out there filling the gap between the bare bones GI models and the other 1911s out there, but it's not the end all, be all of the 1911 world that some make it out to be. It is what it is, a well priced 1911 that isn't quite as nicely fit or finished compared to the other guns, and the price is climbing on them.

Think of it this way, if they are giving you all these options for free, how are they making a profit?

The PT1911 currently only comes in 5" configurations, and a railed version is also available which you won't find on a Rock Island.

At this time, the PT1911 is only available in .45ACP

My pick for Taurus would have to be the Stainless Pt1911 as the blued finish reportedly doesn’t hold up for squat and I’d hate to have the gun refinished for almost half if not more than half of what I paid for the gun.


So you want to buy a 1911 (Part 3)

4: Colt
Call me crazy, but I'm just not impressed with Cot's current options from the factory, I find them to be too edgy, and not equipped with the same features that I can get on a similarly priced gun from the other major players. HOWEVER, if you're looking for a 1911 to take to the range, or just want a 1911 that won't loose value, or want something that you plan to have smithed to your liking, I would greatly advise getting a Colt Series 70 reproduction, if you plan on spending in the $1300+ range and want a 5" gun, the Colt Special Combat should be an item on your list of prospective purchases, after all Colt is the original maker, and they've been doing it a LONG time.

If you’re looking for a base gun for custom work, you can’t beat the Series 70 reproduction guns.

Colt has offerings in .38 Super, .45ACP and one the Delta Elite is reissued, 10mm. They have been previously offered in .40 and 9mm as well.

My pick from Colt: XSE Combat Commander

5: Dan Wesson
If you want a bobtail from the factory (most makers will consider hacking of a corner of the frame grounds to void a warranty, or so I would think) costing less than $1K, a Dan Wesson Classic Bobtail Commander is just the thing for you. I have not heard one complaint on a CBOB yet, and if I had an endless budget, I would buy one in a heart beat, but as it is I have several guns that fill the bill as a compact carry gun but if I were to want another commander sized 1911 for under $1k, this would most likely be it.

Dan Wesson also offers several 5" guns in varying calibers, .45ACP, .40S&W, and 10mm

My Pick from Dan Wesson: Dan Wesson Classic Commander Bobtail in .45ACP

6: Kimber
Here's where I catch a little hell every now and then. Kimbers are the guns that I hate to love, I want a Tactical Pro in 9mm, I want a TLE Pro RL in stainless, I want a CDP Pro, I want a Warrior, I want a Gold Combat RL...hell, I want one of them all.

But I won't be buying another Kimber for a while if not ever, but that's subject for another blog.

Kimber has a vast offering of different models in all manner of sizes and different calibers. Kimber does have a bit of an on-line history of having issues with QC and guns not functioning properly, and horror stories of customer service. I'm just stating the fact that such a history and opinions exist. There are literally thousands of people that have Kimbers that work 100% and never have an issue, and rant about great customer service. All I'm going to say is don't let the majority over ride the minority, take both sides into account before making your decision to buy. The one thing that did drive me nuts about our Kimbers is that for some reason the ends of the barrel near the muzzle had a tendency to rust, I’ve NEVER had that issue with any other 1911 including my Llama. If you get a Kimber and it runs 100% it’s hard to find a 1911 that you will like better. If it doesn’t run and you get a raw deal, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Kimber does have something that not all the makers offer, and that is a CCO sized gun offered in the Kimber compacts. That’s a 4” upper on a compact frame.

Several calibers are available pending on exact package.

My pick from Kimber: SIS Pro, as much as I hate the cocking serrations on this gun, I love the fact that it’s a steel framed 4” gun, does not have the series II firing pin safety, and has the other things I like having on a 1911, those being some nice wood grips, night sights and the 30lpi checkering.

7: Para Ordnance
I've had 4 Para models, both single stack and double stack, some single actions, some Light Double Action models (LDA) I only have a few complaints on the Para family of pistols, one being that the Parakote finish on their pistols is not the equal of other "baked on" finishes, such as that of Kimber’s Kimpro finish. My other issue is that the double stack mags cost around $50.00 ea.

However, if you want either of the following, a ramped barrel, a double stack hi-cap 1911, a single stack 1911, a double action only 1911, or a combination of the above, Para is the gun maker for you. I will also add that if you do go with a double stack 1911, that you get a good belt and a holster with off set mounting attachments to better offset the weight of the heavier gun.

Para offers guns in .38 Super, 9mm, .40 and .45.

My pick from Para: Tac 4 LDA, I hate the ParaKote finish, and 13+1 of .45ACP is nice thing to have, but as they only offer that in the “Carry” line of Paras, I’d remove the bobbed grip safety for an upswept model as the bobbed one was not comfortable for long periods of shooting.

8:Sig Sauer
Sig has been making fine guns for many a year, when the GSRs started hitting the line there were some issues that were accredited to a bad batch of either slides or frames, They have an impressive line up of 1911 models including 5" target guns, standard 5" guns, 4.25" Commander variants with an honest to goodness bushing barrel, compact guns with officer size frame and 4.25" bbls.

The main issue with the Sig GSR line is that the countours of the slide that scream Sig, will not fit in most 1911 holsters, I have tried squeezing a GSR into my Galco Avenger OWB hoslter and it could be done provided I loosened up the tension scew, most holster makers that I've researched don't have a listing for GSRs speciffically, so if you go the GSR route, do your holster research beforehand, make some calls, send some emails and see what's what with the holster selection for a GSR.

Sig is not offering the GSR in other calibers than .45ACP

My pick from Sig: GSR Carry in black Nitron.

9: Smith&Wesson:
S&W came out with their 1911 line a few years ago and they have a pretty impressive line up, they are the only ones to my knowledge offering a scandium alloy framed 1911. Personally, I think the scandium framed guns will be too light for enjoyable prolonged shooting, but that's just a thought as I've never had one or fired one. My one gripe with S&W is that they do not offer a steel framed Commander sized gun.
S&W 1911s are only available in .45ACP

*ETA: S&W 1911s have an external extractor, Kimber tried this and failed miserably or so it seems as customer demand drove them back to the internal extractor, but by all reports S&W got the external extractor right.

My pick from S&W: Gunsite Commander

10: Springfield Armory:
In my personal opinion, Springfield is the best option out of this category of 1911s and even has a good bit of overlap into the custom section with their custom shop guns, the "Professional" models from SA are extraordinary guns and I lust after them almost as much as I do for a NHC built to my specs.

Springfield has different categories based on package options.

GI: This is just your basic no frills 1911A1 pattern pistol, it has that GI look of your Grandpa’s issue pistol and generally sells in the $450 range on up.
MILSPEC: Take your basic GI, and slant the cocking serrations, and beef up the sights a bit and this is what you get, it is available in stainless steel or a parkerized version.
Loaded: The loaded line is a bread and butter 1911, it has everything that is general considered a must on the 1911, it has you're night sights, beaver tail grip safety, good fit and finish, and ambi safety.
The Loaded comes in different sizes as does the above mentioned GI, the loaded can be found the following sizes:

Loaded Full Size = 5" bbl, full frame
Loaded Champion = 4" bushing-less bbl, full frame available in stainless steel, or two tone black over OD w/ alloy frame.
Loaded Compact = 3.5" bushing-less bbl, compact frame, available in stainless only.
Loaded Micro = 3" bbl, compact frame, two tone stainless over black alloy frame.

Then you have you're Operators, which is Springfield’s name for their railed guns. These come in several variants and sizes.

Springfield as has the TRP which is the top end of their guns without going to the custom shop.

The 5" loaded can be found in 9mm, as well as the Springfield EMP which has been redesigned to work better with shorter cartridges, the EMP also comes in .40S&W

IMHO, a Springfield Loaded in any configuration is the best "Starter 1911" out there, you're not spending over 1K for a loaded if you shop around, and if you decide that the 1911 is not for you, you have something with some retail value.

My pick from Springfield Armory: Parkerized Loaded model.


So you want to buy a 1911 (Part 4)

11: STI
STI spans all three tiers, they have an excellent lower cost gun that is the STI Spartan, this gun offers alot of perks and only has an MSRP of $660, in the lower tier guns, this one is hard to beat, but as STI is mainly higher priced guns, not many first time buyers are familiar with it and may overlook it. It's features are listed as:

Crafted with classic 1911 design, the STI International Spartan is a traditional 1911 pistol with high-end standards at an affordable price.

The Spartan is built on a steel, government length, standard width frame. The grip includes a checkered mainspring housing to provide a sure grip. The controls are an STI International single sided thumb safety and high-rise beavertail grip safety. The slide features traditional 1911 styling with front and rear cocking serrations, and the barrel is 5.0" with a match grade fitted bushing. This excellent firearm comes standard with an STI square hammer, patented STI trigger system, and STI sear and disconnector for smooth, reliable function.

The Spartan has a Parkerized finish and is available in .45 ACP
STI has a great amount of mid to high tier guns as well such as the Lawman, Legacy, and Ranger II.

STI also offers several double stack variants in varying calibers.

My pick from STI: Ranger II or Tactical 4.15

That pretty much sums of the first two tiers of 1911s, I'm not going to go into much detail on the third tier, as generally speaking, you're looking at a minimum of $1500 on up.

These are your custom makers, they turn out less guns than the big players listed above, but what they turn out is usually grade A awesomeness and perfection. Generally, you can call them and get what ever you want on the gun with not too much of fuss, before we purchased Lima’s Wilson, we were looking into a Nighthawk Custom, she called them up and basically any change she wanted they were willing to do.

I will go on about Fusion Firearms as they are relatively new and taking the 1911 world by storm, I don’t frequent the 1911 forums as much as I did as we don’t have the budget that we used to and seeing all those fine guns kills us…any way.

Fusion Firearms is run by Bob Serva former owner of Dan Wesson, they are turning out some fantastic guns at prices lower than the other makers in the third tier. Currently, the word is to buy one now before prices go up. From what I’ve been reading they are worth every penny and those that have them seem to like them.

Regarding the high end guns, I’m not saying that you should rule these out due to price, but $1500 is a big chunk of change, if you are buying your first 1911 and you have the money, buy whatever you want, we have 1911s from Les Baer and Wilson, and while I can tell the difference in fit and finish between them and the 1911s I’ve either got in the safe or have had and sold, the guns themselves do not make me a better shooter, we have those guns because we love 1911s and we could afford them at the time. I took my Colt XSE along to a two day class with Insights Training and my groups did not magically get better when I was shooting my Baer, or vice a versa. I’m not saying that a better quality gun doesn’t shoot better than a lower quality gun, I’m just saying that I’m not a good enough shooter to make the gun perform to it’s maximum performance level. If I were to take my Baer and Springfield to a range using a ransom rest, I think I’d see a difference, maybe one of these days I’ll get the chance to test that theory.

Well, that’s pretty much it, there are a lot of 1911 makers out there, and some are better than others.

Regarding which one should you buy, that’s all up to you. Each maker and model can have it’s positives and negatives. Two guns from each maker can run totally different, and the $450 used Springfield I have can run just as good as the $1300 used Les Baer that I have, it all depends on the EXACT gun in question, I do think you can cut potential head aches by staying in the mid tier, but that’s just my opinion.

One thing I did not go into detail about is warranty, before you buy check out the warranty program of the manufacturer in question, something just bothers me about a maker that doesn’t warranty their work for the life of the gun.


So you want to buy a 1911 (Part 5)

"Break In"

So we've all heard that most if not all 1911s NEED to be broken in in order to work properly. This simply is not the case, and is mainly rumor/superstition/misunderstanding.

Personally I find the idea that a gun needs "X" number of rounds fired down it to make it work properly a load of BS and quite frankly, I don't think I'll ever buy another gun that has this "requirement"

There's testing a gun to make sure it works, and then there's blowing a weeks pay in ammo to get the gun feeding correctly.

I went through over a dozen owners manuals from various makers of 1911 pattern pistols and while gun manuals aren't the most friendly regarding some aspects of operation (mainly having a round chambered) odds are that if the manufacturer thinks there should be a break in period, the info should be in the manual.

Looking at my list from So you want to buy a 1911(Part 2)

Auto Ordnance: No break in mentioned in the manual, however they do have the weapons conditions code wrong...might have to call them about that one.

Charles Daly: No mention of a break in period.

ArmsCor: No mention of a break in period, although it does specify to use standard "round nose" ammunition and that if you choose to use wad-cutters, you may want to have the feed ramp re-worked...OK, good to know.


Before shipment, your firearm was carefully inspected and test fired in order
to ensure that it conformed to our specifications and standards. Should your
firearm require adjustment or repair, we strongly recommend that you return
it to Taurus for factory service.
If there is any question regarding the performance of your firearm, please
write to our Service Department fully describing all circumstances and
conditions involved.
What was of interest was their stance on ammunition.

Also, they did get their carry conditions correct and I like the way they presented them.

I know this is slightly off topic, but as this is my blog, I can say pretty much what I damn well please, but I just have to say while I don't think much of the PT1911, I do think Taurus writes a pretty damn good manual, or maybe I'm just too much of a geek by appreciating a well written manual...

Oh yeah, nothing written about a break in period...

Colt (Series 70): I didn't see anything about a break in here either...apparently Colt is of the opinion that if the gun doesn't function as it should that it just might be broken. Now that's an interesting thought....(can you feel the sarcasm? Good)

What the Colt manual does say regarding what might be construed as a "break in" is this:

Again, I'm not really surprised.

Dan Wesson: All DW says in it's wonderfully brief 7 page manual about what do prior to firing is

Before firing your DAN WESSON handgun for the first time…
To assure safe, trouble-free performance beginning with the first time you fire your DAN WESSON handgun, follow the cleaning and lubricating instructions of this manual.
Doesn't sound like there's a recommended break in period to me...

Kimber(full size manual)

Here's where I'm going to ruffle some feathers, but I'm sure some will be too busy scratching their head to argue with me....

Ok, so far that's the only reference of a break in period. Kimber claims this is due to the "tight tolerances" of the gun. Now I'm no gunsmith, but I've had a few 1911s, four of them Kimbers and I've laid hands on I don't know how many other brands that are KNOWN for being tight guns (Les Baer, Wilson, Ed Brown etc) and the Kimber is no tighter than a Dan Wesson. I don't know why Kimber mandates this break in period, but I know plenty of people that have had to go though it to get a working gun. I made it well past 500 rounds (not a cheap expenditure) and still had a POS gun, so basically I wasted the cost of repair trying to reach that "magic number" where my gun would start working.....

OK, I'm going to stop now, not bashing the brand, just stating what my experiences were and my thoughts on the matter....

Lets proceed.

Para Ordnance

Here's another one which dictates a break in period.

While this one is similar to Kimber's, I think it's written a little better as it explains in a little more detail some things to try if there are issues and it flat out states that if you have ANY malfunctions to call customer service. The way Kimber words it, it's almost like they expect it to
run like crap during the break in period.

Sig Sauer: No break in period.

Smith&Wesson 1911 Series
: No break in period listed.

Springfield Armory: You have to download the manual, but there's no break in period listed. I've seen it posted that if you talk to Springfield Customer Service that they recommend any where from 200-750 rounds of break in / "testing" of the gun prior to carry, I'll have to place a call here and see what they say. I'm not taking hearsay on this one as it just sounds goofy as there's been conflicting information posted regarding this and I don't want to regurguitate bad info if I can help it.

STI: No mention of break in in the manual.

Ed Brown From the sound of things, they expect it to work.

Les Baer:

Here's where the break in myth gets really started. Les Baers are probably the tightest damn guns ever made. Seriously have you ever tried just to rack the slide on a NIB Les Baer? And that's not even looking at one with the 1.5 package.

The items I come across regarding a break in period for a Les Baer is 500 rounds, no cleaning during the process. I bought my Baer used didn't have to do this. While I'm not much for here say on this matter, I'll buy into the needed break in for the Les Baer guns just because the guns ARE that tight and the information I've read on the 1911 forums is generally consistent with little in way of differing data. Hmmmm. Les Baer is in IA now, I wonder if I can go and take a tour???

Nighthawk Custom: I didn't see any info on a break in on their website, and I'm unaware of if they come with a manual, I guess there aren't that many people spending upwards of $3K on a 1911 that don't know how it works...

But what they do say is this:

Craftsmanship is also evident in the way your gun feels and performs. Every model gets a level of attention that only the highest priced guns get elsewhere. We remove every sharp edge, round every corner and smooth every serration on every handgun we manufacture. You will immediately notice the solid way it feels, and how it fits your hand like a natural extension.

The level of craftsmanship we offer is carried over to our Custom Knives, Tactical Shotguns, Hunting Rifles and Tactical Rifles. Your imagination is your only limit to what you can have done. Some of our best ideas have come from our customers, and we welcome them.

No one stands behind their product the way that we do. Every pistol, rifle, shotgun or knife that leaves our building has been thoroughly tested and has met our stringent standards. We make sure that your purchase will provide you a lifetime of flawless performance. We do this because we take a lot of pride in what we do, and also because we back it up with the best warranty in the industry.

Firearms are mechanical and everything mechanical can have a problem now and then. We understand this and stand behind all of our products. If you have a problem, give us a call. If we determine that it needs to be returned for repair or adjustment, our policy is to pay shipping both ways. We will issue a UPS tag that allows you to ship the item at no cost to you.
That sounds like no break in to me.

Wilson Combat: I've seen no literature supporting a break in from the manufacturer. Their FAQ on the website doesn't list any info on break in. Most of the people I know that have them haven't needed a break in. Even Lima's which had maybe seen a total of two mags worth of ammo prior to our purchase of it ran like a scalded dog right out of the box.

Now that we've been through six-teen maker's websites/manuals, three of them recommend a break in period, two of them are known for being problematic, (Kimber and Para) and the last of the thee is known for being tighter than...well just damn tight.

Now I'm not saying that you should just take the gun out of the box, stick it in the holster and run out the door, EVERY gun should be tested prior to carry, whether it's a Hi Point, a Glock, a Sig, or a Nighthawk. All I am saying is that MOST 1911s do not need a specific break in other than the basic testing of about 200 rounds or so, and that if there are issues, odds are that there's something wrong with the gun. Will parts eventually get smoother and "wear in" with usage? YES, but you shouldn't have to count on it for the gun to work properly. Read your users manual, follow the instructions given regarding cleaning and lube and blast away. If the gun doesn't work, send it back.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


I was surfing the net the other day and came across a video of a man's handgun collection. When he got to his Colt he mentioned that he was thinking about replacing the trigger because it felt grainy.

I often have moments when I start yelling at my computer. This was one of them.

"No. No! You don't have to buy a whole new trigger."

The first time I was introduced to "stones", or "Alan Stones" as the manager of my shop would call them, was when we got a brand new 1911 in the store on a trade. My manager went to shoot it and said it felt rather burred and chunky and it needed to be smoothed out.

He disappeared into the back of the store and came out with a flat Alan stone and started working the slide. He called me over and explained what he was doing and handed both the stone and the gun over to me and told me to do the slide then work on the frame.

The next few shots out of it were as smooth as butter.

Essentially, stoning is polishing. It removes metal burs that you can't see with the naked eye (and some that you can) and leaves a smooth, sleek metal that will glide instead of skip along other metal parts for a smooth, clean action.

Of course, simply shooting the gun again and again and again will produce the same results as the affect of metal rubbing against metal will be its own polishing but you are talking about a couple hundred to thousands of rounds (depending on how severe the burr happens to be). You can do the same with just fifteen minutes with a stone.

Not only do they work fabulously for slides and frames but for any part where metal meets metal.

Of course, the first diagnostic level is to make sure the firearm is clean and there is no dirt or grime causing the gritty feeling, but after it's established that the firearm is clean, either get yourself a good set of stones or contact a gun smith and ask him if he has the ability to do some stone work on whatever it is you feel is a little gritty.

Here's a good little video on the Brownell's website about stones.

And the stones themselves.

Remake of "Choosing Your First Handgun"

I went back and looked over some of my older videos and didn't like how "Choosing Your First Handgun" was done, so I remade it.

I think this "version" is a little more clear and not so "um" saturated.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Here we are...

So, the Limatunes Diary has been moved here for a while. Nothing in my world seems to happen quickly so I have no idea how long it's going to be before I can get the website back up and running.

The biggest problem is that I know only enough about computers and the web to be dangerous.

But, not withstanding, here we are.