Monday, February 14, 2011

Hobby 1911

Tam and Caleb discussed 1911s, and Tam linked to a dude she respect named Hilton Yam (what a great name) and I was able to read it after copy/pasting it off of a black background web page with white letters.  My eyes cross just thinking about that style/theme.  

The gist of it is, there are, what we are called in the oldtool user and collector market, Gentleman Grade 1911s, and Workman Grade 1911s. 

100 years ago when you bought a plane or a chisel or a saw or a drill there were tiers in quality.  Some guys worked in a bank and wanted to putter in their house on small projects and wanted tools.  These tools were often sold in sets by companies like Hammercher Schlemmer and look nice, can do the job, but...  They might not be the best tools really.  Often these tools were prettified, too.  Nice scrollwork.  Or they were smaller than fullsize, or they were just crep.

Then there were tools used by men that had to make their living from them.  They had to work and last day in and day out.  No scrimping on quality and the price, while not stratospheric object d'art prices, were a little dear.

You see it today.  You $69 Makita drill is hobbiest grade.  Your $269 DeWalt drill is contractor grade.  Guess which one can go 8 hours a day for a year without the bearings going bad?

Same applies to 1911s on the market today.  Like I said, gist.

I like 1911s.  I wish I was a better shooter.  I am also a n00b when it came to and comes to purchasing 1911s.  Notice the title of the blog.  It practically screams n00b.  But instinctively I wanted something a bit better than hobbiest grade guns.  And I paid a little more for this.

Now I didn't have Hilton Yam's (again, LOVE the name) buying guide/advice when I went to go get a 1911.  But my instincts served me well.

The first 1911 I got was a parkerized Springfield Loaded, Government.  Not exactly in the center of the Venn Diagram for recommended duty grade gun, but pretty close.  And I also modified it to change one or two features to make it more reliable that Mr. Yam also suggests are desirable qualities.  Like a short GI style guide rod insteal of full length.  I could go further and get a stronger recoil spring, but, why mess with what I have.  I have no idea if the plunger tube is staked properly, if the extractor is MIM and not tensioned correctly, or what have you.  I doubt it is, really.   So, close. 

The second 1911 is that Colt Series 80 style Combat Commander.  This is the 1911 I'd carry for social purposes when I carry a 1911.  Someday.  Maryland willing.  Until then, it's the Sig P229 and a S&W 640.  But the model I have is... not on Hilton's list.  Well, it is Commander sized.  That takes it off of a police gunbelt and into a IWB holster.  Still, it's brethren are highly thought of.  I also modified this pistol for greater reliability.  Better slide release, short guide rod, metal mainspring housing.  And I did these things without munging up the gun with fumbly home gunsmithing shennanigans.  I'm going to count on the extractor spring being installed right, the plunger tube staked right, etc.

Why?  Because even if I carry it constantly and practice bi-weekly (my average) it will take a long decade pluse to get to top end of pessimistic max round count.  Because I sort of AM a hobbiest with this thing, and my most active.  I'm no cop or soldier, after all.

Mr. Yam's money quote:

The 1911 is an aficionado's weapon, and still has a place in the modern arsenal for those who are dedicated to it. With proper setup and maintenance, the 1911 can serve you like no other weapon.

That's why I am hesitant to carry it.

[Oh, for the record, 1 mechanical failure that wasn't caused by the shooter in the Springfield that took the gun out of service.  The pin that holds in the mainspring housing failed.  Might be from my ham handed removal of it prior.  Easily have 1000 rounds through the gun.  The Commander is new and has 200 rounds so far, with not even a hiccup so far, but too soon to judge.  Neither has had a FTF, FTE, Stovepipe, or Double Feed.  I've had 2 failures in the Sig in over 1000 rounds.  A nasty Stovepipe that split the brass halfway down and one round with too much setback that jammed partway into the chamber and did not want to be cleared.  Tap-Rack-Bang couldn't help in any of these 3 failures.]


Tam said...

"I could go further and get a stronger recoil spring..."

Don't worry; the one that came in the gun is the correct weight. When you replace it 3k-5k rounds down the road, go with an 18# CrSi spring from ISMI.

The boys back home in K-town have been recommending the ISMI CrSi springs for a while now, and they have some USPSA shooters with stupid high round counts on just the one spring.

Kansas Scout said...

I too got a lot out of the Tam/Yam thing. What I got out of it was not exactly what they were contending for. For competitors and LEO's maybe what they say might have some relevance but for me, I think the relevance is much lessened.
I shoot seldom and will depend on my Kimber from 01-02 with complete confidence. I shoot hardball anyway.
I think the problems are overstated for people like me. I am not dismissing what they say. It just really applies to other people. My gun is not a hobby gun either. It's a real gun for a real purpose and I often carry mine. My other gun is a S&W5904 that often compares poorly to others like SIG but mine has never never hiccuped and I carry it with complete confidence.
Like you, if I bought another one Colt would be my choice now. In fact, just the model you bought!
It's about where you sit. From where I sit this makes sense for me. Tam/and Yam's reality are different and they sit in a different place.

Tam said...

"I shoot seldom and will depend on my Kimber from 01-02..."

They hadn't really ruined 'em yet by then.

I had a Clackamas-rollmarked Series I that was an outstandingly reliable pistol.