A Nurse with a Gun

Saturday, February 25, 2006

SW1911 Range Report

I have long been a Colt man when it comes to 1911s. I make no bones about the fact that I prefer my Smith & Wesson guns to have a revolving multi-chamber device right in the middle of a blued frame with walnut grips. Thus, it was an odd feeling when I purchased a Smith & Wesson 1911 and placed another on layaway.

Click to enlargeThe SW1911 I found for a screaming deal came from the factory appointed like my custom Gold Cup. The SW1911 wears a Smith & Wesson branded rear sight that suspiciously resembles like a Bomar. The front sight is fixed in a dovetail. The factory grips are double diamond cocobolo. The pistol has an ambi thumb safety, and a McCormick trigger. It had a nice trigger to begin with, but when I detail stripped the pistol for a good lubrication, I gave it a proper trigger job. I was surprised to find the hammer hooks already at exactly 0.020 and equal. That was pleasantly unusual. The pistol has a McCormick grip safety with a speed bump, and 20lpi checkering on the front strap. It has forward slide serrations, and a full length guide rod. I could take or leave those. The mainspring housing is 20lpi checkered aluminum.

The Smith & Wesson firing pin safety lever design is an elegant variation of the Colt Series 80 system. It is a single lever that pivots on the hammer pin, and is activated by the grip safety. The barrel has a slot in the hood to provide for a loaded chamber indicator, and the extractor is an external type. One Wilson magazine came with the used pistol. The SW1911 does come complete with an idiotic safety message on the left dustcover, and the SW1911 billboard on the slide. The overall fit and finish of the gun is superb.

Click to enlargeThe Smith & Wesson 1911 has a reputation for accuracy, so I broke out my most accurate 1911 to act as a control gun. If the SW1911 shoots as good as my custom Gold Cup National Match, then all I can say is it's a helluva gun. Some may say it's an unfair comparison. I don't think it is. I think that the fact that I chose the Gold Cup to be the control gun speaks volumes for my estimation of the SW1911's potential. I will not be shooting match ammo, and my distances will be around 10 yards with both guns. I took both pistols to the range with 400 rounds of Winchester White Box ammo.


The Smith & Wesson performed flawlessly. It had no failures, and consistently threw the spent brass into a pile to my right. I tried to get the gun to misfeed. I limp wristed it. Click to enlargeI shot it gangster style, and even upside down. I let my thumb ride the slide. The Smith never failed to spit out brass and chamber the next round. There are some things I dislike about the SW1911. The ambi thumb safety is much to wide for my taste. It is like having a diving board on either side of the pistol, An Ed Brown tactical ambi would be much nicer. The McCormick grip safety's "speedbump" compressed the thumb pad of my hand, digging it's corner in to the point of discomfort. My Gold Cup has an Ed Brown grip safety with a "speedbump" and it does not have that same corner. I, in fact, prefer not to have a speedbump on my grip safety at all. The Ed Brown grip safety is a non-issue in this department, however. The McCormick grip safety would have to be changed for a gun that got shot a lot by me. Truth be told, these parts would likely be swapped out anyway. I simply do not like the spotty look of blue small parts on a stainless gun. I always wonder if Stevie Wonder built the damned thing.

But the real question is how did the gun shoot? The SW1911 was accurate. It was damned accurate. It was more accurate than I was. It shot every bit as well as my Gold Cup.Click to enlargeThe sights were sharp, and quick to acquire. The trigger is approximately 3.5 pounds, with no creep, very little take-up and minimal over-travel. Of course, I altered the stock trigger feel with my trigger job, but my point is, I could do the job without buying new parts.

I have a passion for the Smith wheelguns, but when it comes to a 1911, I am an unabashed, diehard Colt man. I will pay more for the prancing pony. I like the heritage and the feel of a Colt. It is an intangible thing. Like those who ride Harley Davidsons, either you understand or not. It is undeniable, however, that the Smith & Wesson 1911 shot just as well for me as my finest Colt. The SW1911 did everything I asked it to do. It was accurate. I could not make it jam. I was not limited by it. It was limited by me. If a man wants an off the shelf 1911 with all the gee gaws, this is the one. It is one helluva gun!

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11 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a new 1980s Colt 1911 {new} that out of the box was terrible! years later with many new parts & MUCH WORK it shoots great! one of the things I had done on mine were S&W relover sites & there great.
It looks like S&W built a 1911 that all ready has all the things a Colt 1911 should have, for the price.
Wheel guns? give me a Smith any time.

8:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I own a S&W1911 and I'd like to replace its blued grip safety with a stainless steel one, of course without modifying the gun. Could you help me? My e-mail is:
franz_53@tin.it

5:08 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

A Chip McCormick grip safety in the flavor you prefer should be near about a drop in part. Expect to have to fit the trigger lever.

5:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All the Chip McCormick grip safeties I've found on the net seem to be blued. Do they make a SS one? Sorry about the mistake, my email is @virgilio.it, not @tin.it

5:29 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Son of a gun! I think you are right! I wonder how your present one would look bead blasted........Does MIM rust? I dunno....

8:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I'd better buy a spare Chip McCormick grip safety, have it sand blasted and chrome/nickel plated. Do you agree?

Molon Labe!

4:40 AM  
Anonymous Frank said...

How do you adjust the trigger. Mine has some slop (SW1911 108284?

7:37 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

How to adjust trigger pull by Jack Weigand

8:01 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Trigger Jobs by Blind Hogg

8:03 PM  
Anonymous adweisbe said...

The firing pin safety on the S&W 1911 is actuated by the grip safety tang not the trigger stirrup.

1:21 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Right you are adweisbe. I changed the piece. Thank you.

4:20 PM  

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