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)
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.Taurus
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
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.