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  #1  
Old 11-08-2008, 10:25 PM
Brian48 Brian48 is online now
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Kahr-built (2008) Auto-Ordnance 1911A1 WWII repro




Well, I'm not sure this new Kahr-built AO has totally exorcised all the demons from those awful Numrich AOs that I remember when I was living in NC nearly two decades ago, but it certainly made a good effort.

A few months ago, I was the market for a cheap, but reliable 1911 that I could beat around and not feel bad about. As circumstances turned out, I wounded up with a LNIB Colt SS 1991 NRM. Couldn't have been happier. Only there was a slight problem. The Colt turned out to be so nice, I didn't want to nick it let alone abuse it. So now I was back on the market for yet another 1911 that I could abuse and not lose any sleep over.

After exhausting my search for a RIA or Norinco, I picked up a new, "MA compliant" AO WWII repro last week. It was cheapest 1911 that we can buy NEW here in this socialist state (the rest of you will get to know our pain now that Obama is in office). Never thought I'd ever own anything with an AO rollmark on it, but after looking it over carefully at the gunshop, I decided to take a chance on it. Now after my first range trip today, I'm glad I got it.

Fit of all major parts is decent, all the holes are in the right spot, parkerizing was even, springs were of good quality, and the barrel chamber/rifling looked fine. The slide stop is a pain to remove though. The interior of the plunger tube must be very rough or something. Either that, or the plunger spring is excessively heavy. I cannot push the slide stop entirely out and away from the frame using just with my finger. I need the help of a small screwdriver or the lip of the magazine to give it a slight pry once it's partially slid out. Hopefully, this will wear in with use. Not a major issue, just a pain in the ass like my brother who borrows my stuff and never returns any of it. The Metalform mag was crap. Had numerous weld marks on it where they attempted to "fix it" or something. Anyway, since I had plenty of Colt mags, the factory mag went Immediately into the crash. Didn't want to waste any time with it.

Not much to look at, but hey it's all about personality, right?




167rds were expended today, of which most were UMC 230gr ball with some 230gr Remington Golden Sabres and Federal HydraShok (old truncated cone style) tossed in. To my surprise, there were no "break in" issues at all. Not one failure to feed, chamber, or extract. I did get two stove pipes, but that was my fault for limp wristing the gun during rapid fire. That problem went away as soon as I started gripping the gun like a man.

The front sight, a concern among some current AO owners, seemed to have been staked on properly and showed no signs of looseness. Accuracy was not bad at all for a mil-spec, but shots tended to drift slightly to the left and high, but not so much that it bothered me. The trigger seemed to have smoothed out really quickly after the first 100 rds or so and broke fairly crisp. Once again, way more than you'd expect for a GI mil-spec.



If I had any complaint at all, it's the standard high ejection port. I was reminded as to why I've always hated it. A few times the brass would deflect off the side of the port and bounce back into the slide. Luckily, it was after the last round so releasing the mag or turning the gun upside down would simply let the casing drop out of the gun. Not serious, but really annoying. My old, custom Essex had this issue and it didn't go away until I had the port lowered. I remember the issued 1911s from my days in the Corps would do this every now and then also. Sooner or later, its gonna cause a stoppage if a brass case gets deflected back and causes a stovepipe.



Anyway, for those of you who have stayed away from the AOs based on your earlier Numrich, West Hurley experiences, these new Kahr 1911s are definitely not the same animal. You might want to give them a look see if you're looking for a cheap GI mil-spec or project gun. Right now, I'm pretty happy with mine and don't plan on making any mods to it (despite the high ejection port). I trust it enough to use it as my home defense gun at the moment.

UPDATE:

A couple of folks has been asking about the barrel and whether it was standard GI or was throated. It's throated.



Here's a better shot of the chamber and rifling. Note, that's oil and fibers from my cleaning patch on the rifling. The grooves are actually very smooth.

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Last edited by Brian48; 11-14-2008 at 09:13 PM. Reason: Update with pics of barrel throat
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  #2  
Old 11-09-2008, 06:35 AM
leade45 leade45 is offline
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Nice report and pictures. Looks like you got what you wanted ! Do you think you will put some better sights on it?
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Old 11-09-2008, 11:23 AM
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Nice review. I remember my old AO from 1990 was so bad it nearly put me off 1911s altogether. I couldn't understand why my dad's 1966 Colt was so nice yet my AO was such a crapper. That's when I realized if you wanted a good 1911 you had to pay at least double what I did. Lesson learned.

The ejection issues you experienced lead me to believe either the extractor needs tuning or the chamber may be a bit tight (or rough). The chamber in my old AO had numerous deep tooling marks, and was partially why I had so many poroblems with it. The thing finally worked better after I replaced the barrel with a GI surplus unit. You may want to take a light to your barrel and make sure there are no deep tooling marks in the chamber. If there aren't, and it doesn't seem too tight then you should make sure there is enough tension on the extractor to hold a loaded round without falling out.
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  #4  
Old 11-09-2008, 01:46 PM
laser1911 laser1911 is offline
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Kahr and its QC was supposed to save Auto-Ordco. Is there a consensus here on the forums on the health and direction of the company?
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  #5  
Old 11-09-2008, 07:37 PM
Brian48 Brian48 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leade45 View Post
Nice report and pictures. Looks like you got what you wanted ! Do you think you will put some better sights on it?
Not sure. I could live with the GI sights, but one of the things that really stood out during shooting yesterday was when I used the combat, silouette targets. The sights practically disappeared once black was on black (the bulleyes targets were fine). I really could have used some white dots. Then again, if I replace the sights, that sort of takes away from the GI feel of this piece. I'm hesitant to even replace the cheap, brown plastics grips at this point to keep as much authenticity as possible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dsk View Post
The ejection issues you experienced lead me to believe either the extractor needs tuning or the chamber may be a bit tight (or rough). The chamber in my old AO had numerous deep tooling marks, and was partially why I had so many poroblems with it. The thing finally worked better after I replaced the barrel with a GI surplus unit. You may want to take a light to your barrel and make sure there are no deep tooling marks in the chamber. If there aren't, and it doesn't seem too tight then you should make sure there is enough tension on the extractor to hold a loaded round without falling out.
I'd wager it's probably the extractor. I've loosened it up a tad since, but haven't shot it again to test. The chamber is fine. My old AMT had exactly what you described. It looked like the drill bit broke off during the chamfering process and was just awful. This Kahr barrel is very well made. The chamber looks polished, the rifling grooves are very distinct (not too shallow, not too sharp), throating is nicely done. All in all, more than what you'd expect from a GI barrel. Barrel bushing was mated well to both barrel and slide as well. Was very suprised.

Quote:
Originally Posted by laser1911 View Post
Kahr and its QC was supposed to save Auto-Ordco. Is there a consensus here on the forums on the health and direction of the company?
Did Kahr actually "save" the company or did they simply buy out the branding to use as their own? I mean this pistol, along with all the other guns manufactured by Kahr, are built right down the road in Worchester, MA. Quite a bit aways from West Hurley, NY. I wonder why they didn't simply release these guns as "Kahr 1911A1s" instead of using the "Auto Ordnance" name.

FYI, does anyone know who makes these frames for Kahr? When I purchased the gun, there was a gentleman in the store that was somewhat of a local expert. He told me that the cast frames are actually provided by Ruger. I've never heard of this or of Ruger ever doing any contract work of supplying rough 1911 frames. It seems to be a consensus that Kahr is getting these frames from "someone", but not anyone overseas.
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Old 11-10-2008, 01:33 AM
impalacustom impalacustom is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by laser1911 View Post
Kahr and its QC was supposed to save Auto-Ordco. Is there a consensus here on the forums on the health and direction of the company?
My Kahr made Thompson is very nice, excellent fit and finish, never jams or has any kind of trouble. I think they are trying to go the right way.
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  #7  
Old 11-10-2008, 12:17 PM
Dave Swaffield Dave Swaffield is offline
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Brian48,
Nice report on the AO 1911A1; looks to be a decent gun to me, also.
It's between this and a Springfield MilSpec, regardless - not sure I'd go wrong with either one.
Happy 233rd Marine Corps Birthday, Brother.
Semper fi,

Dave Swaffield
(former Corporal of Marines, 68-70)
Proud father of Corporal David Swaffield, 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, Camp Pendleton, California
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  #8  
Old 11-13-2008, 08:19 PM
joshua casher joshua casher is offline
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Nice report with great pictures. Makes me want to give the Kahr/A-O 1911's a try.
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  #9  
Old 11-14-2008, 09:31 AM
shooter1201 shooter1201 is offline
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IIRC, old AO 1911 frames were made in Spain.
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Old 11-14-2008, 09:13 PM
Brian48 Brian48 is online now
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Updated with pics of the feedramp and barrel throat.
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  #11  
Old 11-14-2008, 09:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shooter1201 View Post
IIRC, old AO 1911 frames were made in Spain.
If they had been made in Spain, they would have to have been stamped "Made in Spain", and my 1990 A-O frame had no such marking.
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  #12  
Old 11-14-2008, 10:31 PM
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The initial castings were made in Spain. They were finished by Caspian and shipped to West Hurley for assembly.
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Old 11-15-2008, 03:40 PM
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I can't believe that Caspian would've been the ones machining the old AO frames and slides. They were so rough and out of spec that even Essex would've been embarassed to call them their own.
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Try not to fall into the common trap of wanting to replace everything on your new 1911 just to make it "better". Know what you're changing out, and why. You may spend a lot of money fixing things that weren't broken to begin with. Shoot it for at least 500 rounds, then decide what you don't like and want improved. Vintage 1911's should NEVER be refinished or modified because it ruins any value they had as a collectible firearm.
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  #14  
Old 11-16-2008, 10:02 AM
shooter1201 shooter1201 is offline
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Originally Posted by dsk View Post
I can't believe that Caspian would've been the ones machining the old AO frames and slides. They were so rough and out of spec that even Essex would've been embarassed to call them their own.
IIRC, Massad Ayoob is credited with pointing out several years ago that the frames/castings came from Spain.
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Old 11-16-2008, 05:57 PM
Brian48 Brian48 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dsk View Post
I can't believe that Caspian would've been the ones machining the old AO frames and slides. They were so rough and out of spec that even Essex would've been embarassed to call them their own.
It's possible all Caspian did was just sell the rough blanks. The machining would have been done here.

In either case, does anyone know who is supplying Kahr with these frames now?
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Old 11-16-2008, 10:36 PM
ppcrusa ppcrusa is offline
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hmm, that piece actually looks pretty good. Seems to be true to form. No malfunctions either. I agree with dsk, the extractor needs some more tension sounds like. Otherwise looks like a fine 1911 beater. Of course the true test comes when you try to put an aftermarket part in it.
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  #17  
Old 11-29-2008, 09:23 PM
Gomez Gomez is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dsk View Post
I can't believe that Caspian would've been the ones machining the old AO frames and slides. They were so rough and out of spec that even Essex would've been embarassed to call them their own.
Here's one [unverified] reference:


And while an attached tag which accompanies each gun reads "Made in America by Americans," the frame and slide are actually investment cast by Ecrimesa Feinguß of Santander, Spain before they are brought to the United States to be machined by Caspian Arms in Vermont before being assembled and fitted in West Hurley, New York.


I know this wasn't the first place that I encountered this info [it was pre-internet] but I don't recall where I first got the info.
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  #18  
Old 12-14-2008, 06:05 PM
MSgt Dotson MSgt Dotson is offline
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In 1989 or so, my father had an old, battered looking Auto Ord 1911A1....

I quickly explained to him that this pistol would *NOT* feed his chosen load of CCI 200 gr JHP (aka, the original Flying Ashtray). But, it fed them like hardball....not a stutter. (And using GI mags, no less!)

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