A Nurse with a Gun

Wednesday, June 03, 2009


For some reason, I am asked fairly frequently about what I like in a 1911 pistol. My usual response is that what I like only matters to me. Each shooter is unique, and the beauty of a 1911 style pistol in today's world is that it can easily be customized to a shooter's own preferences, assuming such a pistol is not available off the shelf. The real question is what a shooter has decided works for themselves. Still, to answer the question in another round about way, I found this photo in my archives which shows several features I don't like. These features are not inherently bad, they just don't work for me. I would not turn down this Colt Commander if it were offered to me at a fair price. However, it would not last 24 hours without a few modifications.

First off would be the Hogue wrap around rubber grips. I detest them. They are fat, sticky, and they do nothing to help me control the gun. What would I screw on? Wood or rubber double diamonds. The down turned "duck bill" grip safety would have to go. I would either install an Ed Brown grip safety with the speed bump removed, or I would go with a smoothed out GI style grip safety.

The rear sight would be the next thing punched off this gun. A Commander is a carry gun. Carry guns deserve a fixed rear sight. If I could get a Ted Yost Retro rear sight, that would be my first choice. If not, something similar. Finally, it would get a long trigger and a trigger job. My preference is a flat mainspring housing and a long trigger.

So for those who have asked, that is how I would immediately alter this particular pistol if I purchased it. Oh, one other thing. I would check the chamber, and place the the thumb safety in the up position.



Anonymous mmurrell said...

Xavier, you are the shiznit (not a four letter word). I have read many or your posts and articles and find you an extreme wealth of information (photography too, but that is a different story). I am 43 (a year or some younger than you) and let's say new the the gunnery aspect of life. That's not the entire truth, as I have shot many years ago with all types of guns from UZIs to Desert Eagles. I have even been exposed to the beauty of reloading. But, in the last year I have become very serious about home defense and personal and family protection. I have obtained a CCW and regularly carry a Ruger LCP .380 in the pocket. I also own, and have tactically trained with a PX4 Storm in .40, which I have become quite proficient. To that I can add owning a Ruger Security Sixty-Six in .357 and a Mossberg 500A (I've read your shotgun stuff as well....the Moss is undergoing some enhancements). I consider myself as a Renaissance man, or if you will "Old School".....I need a 1911 in .45 ACP!!! You have pointed me to the Springfield GI 45. Straight up, no nonsense bs from a handgun. I have also read your reviews of the SA Mil-Spec. And, I have quite the source for Colt WWI replicas, granted, about $400 more. If you can, what do you think is the best shooter? I understand quick sight pictures,GI sights and the such. I plan to make this full size an everyday carry. I am not into ambi-safetys or gimmicks...althougth that SFS system that Cylinder & Slide offers in quite intriguing (opion(s)?)Let's just say, as you stated, Mr. Jeff Cooper's doctorine is foremost. I might tweak a few things, such as losing the MIM slide release for and Ed Brown GI serrated piece, and the hammer and maybe the bushing....Yes sir, I try to do my homework, or at least learn everything I can. But, I have to ask the same question that many here have...what did you think? At least I narrowed it down to three....

Sir, you are a gentleman and a scholar! I'm not sure you understand the breadth of what you post on these pages...they are certainly impactful. And, with some, decision making info. The only thing that would be better is to visit your place a shoot everything....ha-ha.

And, btw, excellent photography! Those wedding pics? Come on...go pro.

Sincerely yours


1:07 AM  
Blogger Old NFO said...

ALL good points! I've shot one with the Hogue grips, and it felt like the pistol was "squirming" in my hand, regardless of how hard I gripped it.

8:18 AM  
Blogger Bernice said...

Well hello there! I dont' know if I have ever actually commented on your blog, but I do stop by frequently to admire your mad photography skills. I really am kind of jealous. I'm sure you are wondering exactly what made me comment this time. It's that pretty little 1911 you have there. My younger brother recently introduced me to handguns and well, I like them. I have always been a rifle girl with some serious accuracy. Now, I haven't held too many hand guns but when he put that 1911 in my hand it was like the clouds parted and the sun shined brighter (well as bright as it can at an indoor shooting range at night.) I digress. I want one. It fit my hand perfectly. It felt comfortable and had a clip which was a highlight mainly for the sole purpose of not having to reload so often as I did the the .38 revolver. I don't know much about handguns and I don't really think there is a point to this comment, sorry for that. I don't suppose you could help a girl out with some good sites that will help me become a lot more informed about purchasing one for myself.

8:47 AM  
Anonymous RIjake said...

Xavier, I concur with your assessment of this pistol, except I prefer an arched MSH. What you described is pretty much my daily carry pistol in stainless.

4:19 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Bernice, You found a great gun. A lot of women prefer the 1911 once they get past the 45 cartridge.

If you look in my sidebar, you will find links to 1911 reference sites. If you click the label at the bottom of this post, you will find quite a bit I've written on the subject. Try this link for starters.

7:40 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

It's really different strokes for different folks......

I really like S&W's scandium framed 1911s if I'm going to be toting it all day long. I like the Colt Defender for the same reason, but I give up a round. Presently, I am expecting a melted and hard chromed Colt Commander back from Clark Custom any time now, that will be the cat's meow.

I obviously prefer Colts, but it's a personal bias really.... Springfield makes fine 1911s. The main thing is that it be absolutely reliable with your carry ammo, and accurate enough to get the job done. The rest is dependent on your training.

Make certain you will carry it all the time. Make it comfortable to carry. Make it durable so it can take the daily grind of concealed carry. Fixed sights. No fiber optic bullshit. No fat sticky grips. No abrasive grips to put a callous on your belt line. Stick it in a reasonably good holster with a dedicated gun belt, and bingo.... a comfortable and ready carry 1911.

7:58 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

What you have pictured Xav, is a classic “wadgun” with open sights. Some might also refer to it as a “bullseye pistol.”

From its looks there appears to be a Bomar adjustable rear sight, a refitted safety (due to the plum coloring I’d guess it was rust blued) and a Hogue wrap around grip, which demonstrates to me the prior owner dedicated this gun for use in Conventional Pistol matches.

Bullseye pistols generally are the most accurate 1911s that can be had, due to the shear labor of extreme hand fitting by uniquely trained armorers. You’ve written about Jim Clark in the past and he does this type of work.

The rule of thumb is it must pass the Ransom Rest test of a ten shot string, at 50 yards, and group no larger than 2”. I own two, and the better of the lot will print 1.36” at 50.

It’s a specialized gun for a specialized precision sport. Wadguns may be ugly but they sure do the job of what’s asked of them.

2:05 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...


Clark knew that the longer sight radius of a Government Model was preferable for a target gun. Indeed, he often installed Aristocrat sight ribs that had the front sight extended three inches in front of the muzzle. The longer sight radius is Clarks idea behind the long slide 1911.

I think he would wonder who would use a commander as a target gun too. Sure, the pistol can be made just as accurately. However the longer sight radius is easier to shoot accurately. Why handicap yourself in a match?

5:52 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

X, you’re absolutely right about the Aristocrat sight. Clearly Jim Sr. fathered the “heavy long-slide,” which was to overcome two dilemmas: guns that were too light and extending the sight radius.

I’ll be the first to admit that it’s extremely uncommon to see a commander sized wadder, but they do appear occasionally on the line. Since average and large size guys like to deal with and shoot big guns, those who are demure or short in stature can benefit from a smaller platform. And you’re correct they’re just as accurate as a full size model.

Without a hands-on inspection to review key areas and parts, I really can’t be definitive with my assessment. But it quacks like a duck.

Worse yet, what might have happened (and I’ve seen this too) where a new Tyro had one in the safe and didn’t want to go to the expense of purchasing a new 1911 platform or over sized frame and slide. He might have simply taken the commander to a smith and convinced him into converting it to a wadder.

2:43 PM  

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