Gun Tests Reviews of S&W 1911 and Armscor 1911
FYI: The forthcoming issue of Gun Tests reviews two models from Armscor and the S&W 1911. S&W gets a positive rating, Armscors conditional ratings.
They just told me what I already know about the S&W.:D
Any negatives in the article?
yes and no, the first part of the review praised it's flawless reliability and consistant 3" accuracy with all ammo types. There is also this "second opinion: review......
Smith & Wesson finally got a .45 automatic right. The
new SW1911 is the first Smith-made .45 auto I would
personally own, having cut my teeth over a quarter century
ago on Colt?s versions. Along the way to the SW1911,
Smith & Wesson generated a host of also-rans, clumsy to
the hands of many shooters, though like most guns made
by this ancient but thoroughly modern company, they were
all well made. But there was always something wrong with
them, ergonomics usually, that kept these earlier versions
of .45 autos out of the hands of serious competitors, who
preferred the 1911 design. Some months back, a friend
of mine told me he had seen 1911 parts being made by
S&W that had another maker?s name on them. S&W, with
its new, intelligent, forward-thinking, and shooter-oriented
management, finally saw the light and began producing
its own version of the old war-horse. The SW1911 is better
than most Colt clones and has some innovations.
Smith did almost everything on the SW1911 just like
most combat-trained shooters require, from the grand
Novak sights to the beveled mag well, and from the comfortable
beavertail to the snug fit of the barrel in its bushing.
The external extractor, which mimics that used by
John Browning on his Hi-Power, requires a new hole on
top of the slide that some won?t like. But the S&W passed
the first test of any .45 auto with flying colors. Raking
one?s hand down the length of the slide revealed no sharp
edges, so a stovepipe jam can be cleared without the need
to bleed. However, the corner of the external extractor
was razor-sharp, and it?s possible the fingers can catch
it. It needs rounding.
We found no other hand- or holster-gouging edges, and
that?s rare on most new, factory-made 1911 types. Only
Wilson?s and Valtro?s guns have had it exactly right of
those I?ve seen.
This sample didn?t have gold-filled trim, but it was otherwise
similar to the second test gun described on these
pages. The trigger was a long Videki, made of aluminum.
The thumb safety was long, easy to hit, positive, and thankfully
one-sided only. Some won?t like the rubber grips, but
any 1911 grips can be installed to suit. Press checking
must be done using the forward slide serrations because
of the slide-spring rod design. The magazine release protruded,
but not too far, and Wilson Combat?s eight-round
mags fell free and went back in positively. The flat,
coarsely checkered mainspring housing was not magnetic.
It probably was aluminum. All the rest of the gun was
steel, and all the parts, inside and out, were stout and
very well made, and the fitting was outstanding throughout.
In case you didn?t know, S&W knows how to make
gun parts and put ?em together.
Now the bad stuff. The trigger pull of this sample was
way too heavy, measuring almost 6.5 pounds. It was crisp,
but fairly useless for serious shooting. The grip safety required
excess force to depress. The grip safety, through
levers, presses upward on a firing-pin lock within the slide.
This system is similar to that used by Colt?s on its current
1911 series. Using a Lyman digital gauge, I measured
the force needed to fully depress the grip safety on
two normal 1911s, and found it to be well under two
pounds. I measured at right angles to the back strap, with
the gauge catching the lowest point on the grip safety.
The SW1911 measured a resounding 5.3 pounds. This
amount of crush is noticeable to the trained hand, even
though that hand may be squeezing the grip mercilessly.
Partly because of the excess grip-spring pressure
needed, I was not able to consistently depress the grip
safety and had numerous failures to fire, under time constraints.
My hands require changing the shape of the grip
safety or adding a pad. I?d have a good gunsmith reduce
the force needed to depress the grip safety, and also have
him reduce the trigger pull to 4 pounds before I?d carry
The front-strap serrations were useless for me. They
did almost nothing to help hold onto the gun. I?d prefer
fine checkering, which could be easily added, but then,
up goes the cost of the gun. Finally, there was no barrelbushing
wrench provided. Instead, S&W gave the buyer a
huge padlock along with the two Wilson magazines. That
simple fifty-cent wrench is NEEDED to field-strip a 1911
of this design. Without it, shooters will use anything handy
to get the gun apart, with resultant gouged eyes, broken
windows, damaged gun parts, and curse-filled air.
In short, I did not think the SW1911 was fully combat-
ready as it comes from the factory, though it was
darned close. The SW1911 gave good accuracy with
three types of ammo tried. It shot close to where it
looked, and there were no failures of any sort with the
gun?s operation. It was tight, positive, and gave a feeling
of confidence, though the poor trigger tempered that
somewhat, with its clear indication the gun needs attention.
I congratulate S&W for this handgun. I hope it
will commonly have a trigger pull in the range of 4 to 4.5
pounds, and that the package will include a bushing
wrench. ?Ray Ordorica
A SECOND OPINION: SMITH?S SW1911 IS VERY NEAR THE MARK
Contrary to what has been said...The SW1911 does come with a bushing wrench from the factory and it is steel, not plastic.
On mine, just a regular grip, not a death grip releases the firing pin safety.
On mine, the trigger is crisp, with no creep and runs at about 4.5 #s.
The trigger is not a Videki, it's a Texas Armament trigger sold by Wilson.
Just thought I'd add my 2 cents.
What about the Armscor? Was it the Medallion they tested?
What did they say about it?
Tell ya what folks. Smith is big enough to make this 1911 market very, very, interesting.
Glad to hear the positive comments about the S&W 1911 because I'm picking mine up on 3-21-03. I thought the $750.00 price was pretty reasonable for a decent 1911. I also thought the grip safety was a little strange; It is easy to depress for the first 1/16th of an inch, then it requires more pressure. I dry fired it several times & it didn't seem to interfere with the trigger pull, but the trigger was a bit heavy, but I'm OK with that since I"m used to my Glocks 8 lb trigger.
When you pick up your S&W 1911, before you take it home, try the pencil test. Make sure the weapon is empty, put a pencil down the barrel, point the gun in a safe direction, cock the gun, hold the pistol with your regular grip, depressing the grip safety and then pull the trigger. If the pencil shoots out the barrel about 3 to 4 feet, the FP safety is working just fine.
I just sent mine back to the factory today. I really like the pistol, but it had a few problems:
1. Thumb safety would disengage by itself when you pulled the trigger.
2. Grip safety required a Hulk-like grip to disengage
3. Mags would hang up on the mag release when inserting, unless you really smacked 'em hard.
4. Grip screw bushings weren't staked in on one side.
S&W didn't ask nary a question when I called - just took my address and immediately shipped me out a pre-paid FedEx label to send the gun back to them. I'll give an update when I get the gun back - probably next week.
I plan to replace the sights with a set of Trijicons, and have a set of Crimson Trace grips all ready to install, as well.
howdy New-comer, yes the review did mention the Medallion.... here by the miracle of cut & paste....
In this test we not only look at the latest 1911A1 version from Armscor, but also the firm?s flagship model, the Medallion, and the retro-designed Twin Pines model, which features a frame and slide from Rock Island Armory. The lowest-priced pistol in this test comes with an MSRP of just $350. With styling somewhere between the Colt Sistema and a GI Milspec pistol, Armscor calls it the Twin Pines model. At an MSRP of only $475, the Armscor 1911A1 model has almost all the features that were once considered custom options. The Medallion is the only imported model in this lineup with adjustable sights, but its gloss finish and $800 price tag make it price-comparable to the SW1911.
Who would win this match up of domestic and foreign .45s? Only time at the range would tell.
Armscor Rock Island Twin Pines .45 ACP, $350
The Twin Pines model is a simple, old-style 1911 pistol. The markings on the slide made no reference to the model name, but the slide did display a bold insigne featuring a large cannon and the words Rock Island Armory. We were impressed by its clean edges and evenly applied finish. The heavy wood grips were very tasteful. They were smooth rather than checkered, clearly displaying the attractive wood pattern. The sights were a low-mount design, as found on the original Browning. When sighting on a target, we found them easily. Cocking serrations appeared on the rear of the slide, and vertical lines were cut into the flat mainspring housing. A beavertail grip safety was included, but it was narrow at the tang. Modern 1911s have wider tangs and are more comfortable to shoot. The Twin Pines also lacks other niceties found on modern pistols, including a skeletonized hammer and trigger, both of which decrease lock time and, as a result, cycling speed.
Despite these shortcomings, we liked this pistol, in part because of its price. We?re not sure this gun will ever be valuable as a collectible, but we did find this same pistol being offered at www.auctionarms.com for $362, which is just a little more than the MSRP.
Other web chatter remarked that it jammed at first but broke in nicely, so we traveled to the range to find out if the Armscor Twin Pines 1911 was a throwback in function as well as in style. It turned out that what we read on the chat boards was pretty accurate. Yes, we did have failure-to-feed stoppages, with rounds not fully entering the chamber. We even retrieved a shaved rim from a casing spit out during fire.
In terms of accuracy the Twin Pines shot better than expected with two of our three test rounds. In fact, despite the minimal sights our best group measured 1.3 inches.
Click here to view "Accuracy and Chronograph Data."
This helped lower the overall average of the Federal American Eagle 230-grain FMJ rounds to 2.4 inches. The variation was not as wide, but the average group size was the same firing our handloaded target ammunition.
The Twin Pines is an old-fashioned gun, and we found it produced the most inconsistent results firing the Federal Hydra-Shok rounds, which were the most modern ammunition we had on hand. We have seen this type of discrepancy before, which is one of the reasons we picked 230-grain ammunition across the board.
Armscor 1911A1, .45 ACP, $475
The 1911A1 45 from Armscor has a lot going for it. The list of features is not any shorter than most ?custom? models available over the counter. Checkered wood grips, raised surface grip safety, ambidextrous thumb safeties, relieved hammer and trigger, and Novak-style snag-free sights. Unlike the Twin Pines ?replica-gun,? this is a modern 1911.
In terms of this pistol?s choice of ammunition, we found it to be the exact opposite in that the Hydra-Shok and not the lower-velocity standard ammunition produced the most accurate results. Even with a largest group size of 3.4 inches, the average for all shots fired with this jacketed hollowpoint round measured less than 3.0 inches. But this pistol had downsides as well. First, like the other Armscor pistols in this test, the point of impact was off by as much as 8 to 10 inches in elevation. The 1911A1 shot high and the Twin Pines was set too low. Without available elevation adjustment on either the Twin Pines or the 1911A1, a change in front sight is called for. Just like our experience in testing past Armscor 1911s (June 2002, .40 S&W, and April 2002, .38 Super) the rear sight worked loose, spoiling our aim. To avoid this we recommend sighting in the gun upon arrival and applying Loc-Tite to cement the setscrew in place.
As far as malfunctions, we suffered just a few failures to feed over 200+ rounds (extractor or magazine related, we?d bet). We also noted that when loading the Federal American Eagle rounds, the last round would at times pop out of the magazine. On one occasion the round flipped into the air, completing a one-and-a-half full gainer and landing backward atop the follower. A comment we found on the web that recommended better magazines and polishing the feed ramp was pretty astute.
We would like to point out that although our Philippine pistols use the same basic frame, they handled and shot with entirely differently. In our opinion, the 1911A1 was the softest shooter, with the type of action the American public has come to expect. This includes a crisp break to the trigger. The Twin Pines required us to make certain physical and mental adjustments to ensure we pressed the trigger straight back and avoided dipping the muzzle. The model 1911A1 filled our hands evenly, without slippage, promoting a neutral grip. This means the only moveable part is the trigger, which is how it should be. Another common imperfection is a delay or distraction as the grip safety works against the trigger, and the Armscor model 1911A1 avoided this pitfall as well.
Armscor Medallion .45 ACP, $800
It is not unusual to look at a specific firearm and ask why it is expensive. But in the case of the Armscor Medallion, the answer was obvious. With high-tech coatings such as hard chrome, poly-this and armor-that, few are as tasteful and visually fulfilling as the high-gloss blued finish found on the Armscor Medallion pistol. The detail work on the slide, including forward and rear cocking serrations, were another costly feature. The grips were fashioned from select wood that has been fully checkered. Even the Allen screws were glossed and buffed. The mainspring housing was checkered, and this checkering carried over to the raised portion of the grip safety ? a detail we rarely see. The skeletonized hammer was also blued and treated to matching checkering. The magazine release was checkered as well, and the ventilated trigger had also been blued. The slide was flat topped and lined to reduce glare. Sights front and rear were dovetailed into place, and the rear unit was lined and fully adjustable. The Medallion also used a full-length guide rod that had been heavily chromed and the tip beveled. This added up to an impressive visual package.
However, at the range the Medallion was not as impressive as the Rock Island Twin Pines, the least expensive gun in this test. Though the Medallion proved to be more reliable than the Twin Pines, it trailed slightly in accuracy.
To earn a Buy It rating, all a pistol has to do is function as intended. A gun that fires without problem and costs the least would be well on its way to earning a Best Buy rating. If a gun proved especially accurate or was otherwise most appealing, a rating of Our Pick is in the offing. But here we had three guns from one manufacturer divided by a large gap in price, all of which suffer from some sort of reliability problem, and the least expensive gun with the most ?archaic? features proves to be the most accurate. With the Medallion we suffered only two failures, both of which were identical. The result was a spent case being crushed between the hood of the barrel and the breech face. We checked with master gunsmith Ross Carter (870-741-2265) for an over-the-phone evaluation. His best guess was a lack of extractor tension. Repair could be a simple adjustment or something as radical as needing to correct an irregularity of the breech face, which could offset the case and interfere with the extractor?s ability to get a good hold on the case rim.
However, we had been experiencing another problem that would indicate the gun was unlocking prematurely, causing the extractor to slip off the case before it could be moved the intended distance from the chamber. The clue here was the shooter being sprayed by unburned powder. Supporting this theory were gouges and slices on the inner surface of the case rims where the extractor had lost its grip on the cases that were subsequently crushed. Whereas most current 1911 manufacturers have found a way to cure the problems of internal extractor design, we?re beginning to see 1911 pistols such as the Smith & Wesson SW45 appear with external extractors.
I'm a bit dissapointed :( with the way the Medallion performed in the test.
I was hoping it would do well, as I've been eyeing the high cap version as my first 1911.
Oh well... The search goes on... ;)
"The external extractor, which mimics that used by
John Browning on his Hi-Power"
On HIS Hi-Power?
Let's see, he died in 1926, and the external extractor was incorporated into the P-35 in 1953.
I have not been able to figure out why anyone would buy from the Traiters at Smith and Wesson. They are traiters to the 2nd amendment and to us gun owners for that deal they made with the goverment. I will never but from them again and would hope that my fellow gun owners/lovers would do the same. We should make an example of them to show other gun makers what will happen to them if they get in bed with the gov. Not to mention almost everthing I heard about their 1911 style pistol as been that some thing didn't work or or was was so stiff it woundn't work.
Why make an example of a FORMERLY British-owned company who capitulated to the Clintonites? This is NOT the same company you so eloquently villify. S&W is made up of shooters, gunsmiths, wonderful cutomer service reps, engineers, etc., who make what I believe to be a great company. The new owners tossed the agreeement and have righted the company. Hell, I have a SW 1911 and it is one of the best production 1911's I've ever shot; and the .500 revolver? Gimme two of 'em!
Your comments are stale and outdated; I might have agreed with you when the agreement was in effect, but times change and life moves on. Get over it.
The S&W boycott stuff is old and tired. In my opinion it was sorry when it first came up. No one (that I know of) ever called for a boycott of Rugers when Bill Ruger advocated a ban of "hi-cap" magazines and lobbied for it in D.C. An episode many conveniently forgave Ruger for.
The S&W 1911 shows a lot of promise.
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