SW1911PD Range Report
Like the SW1911s before it, The SW1911PD has a serrated frontstrap, Novak sights, and a grip safety activated firing pin safety. The small parts are made of MIM, and the mainspring housing is checkered aluminum. From the factory, the pistol has a solid full length guide rod, and forward slide serrations, both of which I can live without. The external extractor on the SW1911 is not what John Moses Browning designed, (or rather, what the US Army requested), but Smith & Wesson had a lot of experience with external extractors on their double action auto loaders. Where external extractors fail on other 1911s, the S&W unit has a reputation for keeping on ticking.
To bring the pistol closer to my idea of a carry gun, I installed rubber S&W grips, a GI recoil set-up, and did a trigger job on it. Astute readers may notice a marking gone. With a Wilson magazine stuffed inside, I was ready to take the pistol to the range for reliability testing. I brought along 250 rounds of Winchester White Box 230 grain target ammo, as well as 50 rounds of Federal 230 grain HydraShoks. I also took a standard SW1911 to compare the scandium framed pistol to.
I had read how the scandium 1911s were more difficult to shoot, due to their lighter weight. I prepared myself for that, but I refuse to wear shooting gloves. Over the past three years, I had not read a single complaint regarding the frame being weak. That is a good thing, because I like to train with what I carry. If a pistol cannot stand up to the pounding I will give it in training, I really don't want to stake my life on it.
I started shooting with the SW1911PD, first, just making certain it was safe after my gunsmithing efforts, and then trying to make it jam. I limp wristed it. I shot it sideways. I rode my thumb on the slide. I shot it upside down. Not once did it fail to feed and shoot. The safeties functioned positively as advertised.
I shot all 300 rounds through the SW1911PD. It was a blast to shoot. It had a quick, certain return to sights, allowing for rapid recovery and follow-up shots. I found absolutely no difference in muzzle flip than what I am used to in a Government Model. Perhaps this is because I use a very strong isometric grip in a Chapman stance for my shooting. With my grip, the weight of the frame is simply not a factor in recoil.
I was, frankly, having a blast. Two shooters with Glocks were off to my right, and I was eating them up at 30 feet. I was punching holes in an index card taped to the chest of a silhouette target. There was a single ragged hole in that card. I was flying high. The SW1911PD was accurate. If I slowed down, it was a precision shooter. Then, I had a problem........I was out of ammo.
Damn. I went to the counter, and I bought another 100 rounds of 230 grain MagTech ammo. I decided I had better switch to the standard framed SW1911 immediately. I noted that the perceived recoil and muzzle flip was the same in my hands. I shot about 25 rounds through the standard SW1911 and I realized something else. The SW1911PD was actually easier for me to shoot! I could hold it up, with less effort, for a longer period of time. No wonder I had unknowingly blazed through my ammunition. My arms simply were not getting tired from holding the extra weight extended at arms length!
I only have 375 rounds through this pistol thus far, but it is showing great potential as a carry gun. I have little doubt that the reduced weight on my belt will result in less fatigue at the end of the day. I would have absolutely no hesitation about recommending this pistol to a woman as a carry gun, assuming she is familiar with the 1911 platform, and uses an isometric grip. I look forward to passing the 1000 round mark and putting the pistol into service as a carry piece.
Then, I wondered how it would compare to my Colt Compact.
Update: The first internet report on a SW1911PD frame cracking that I have come upon is here.