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Old 01-03-2010, 04:57 PM
Dave Severns Dave Severns is offline
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Severns custom 2010 holiday shoot-out...the report!




PLEASE READ:

Welcome to the 2010 Holiday Shoot-Out! Before I get started, a few notes and house-keeping details. First, as with past shoot-outs, please understand that this will include a lot of photos and typing. As such, due to photo limitations per post, I’ll have to upload several, consecutive posts. Between posts, I ask that you refrain from interjecting, so as to keep this going as if it were one, continuous article. Everyone wants to hear all the various members’ input, and there will be time for that, as well…AFTER the article has concluded. OK?

Also, a note or two about the guns used, and the evaluation, in general. This is a “for fun” evaluation of various guns, for entertainment purposes only. It evaluates only one gun from each manufacturer (pistols vary from sample gun to gun), is far, far from scientific, and it is admittedly limited in scope, but it is a real world test, conducted at the gunsmith’s bench as well as outside, in real world conditions. Second, note that I have tried to do my best to remain unbiased throughout this testing. All shooting was witnessed, by someone who has no connection to any manufacturer, nor to this forum. I have nothing to gain by doing this, other than sharing some time with friends doing what we all love to do. Feel free to draw whatever conclusions you desire from this evaluation. It makes no difference whatsoever to me, as long as you enjoy what we have done. Further, understand that no one is giving me anything to do this testing, and the guns are all owned either by myself, or friends. I have asked for neither consent nor compensation in ANY manner from any gun manufacturer for doing this simple evaluation. If they like it, great. If they don’t, great. I am doing this for you, the forum membership…and not for them. If they don’t like the results, they need to build a better gun…

Finally, to my friends who agreed to let me use your pistol for testing, my sincere thanks! You have my promise that your valued firearm has been treated with the utmost care, and also that it will be returned to you in a condition better than that in which it arrived! OK, that’s all the ho-hum intro stuff…let’s get to it!


SEVERNS CUSTOM 2010 HOLIDAY SHOOT-OUT!

For 2010, I wanted to do something a bit different, and more comprehensive, than has been done in the past. Once again, I wanted to test a new Dan Wesson pistol against what would be considered to be a worthy rival; however, I wanted this shoot-out to be something more. Accordingly, this shoot-out will be divided into two phases; each with different numbers of competitors!

The first phase of the shoot-out consists of a brief introduction of not two, but THREE semi-custom guns, followed by a complete strip to their bare parts and components. Each part of each gun will be evaluated, noting both the good and the “room for improvement”.

In the second phase, we’re going to take NINE different 1911s to an outdoor range, where they’ll be tested from a mechanical “Ransom Rest” for accuracy, using several different loads. Most of the guns tested are factory stock, with no modifications what-so-ever. Any modifications to any of the guns will be pointed out. Several of the pistols are absolutely brand-new, fresh out of the factory wrapper. I opened ’em, I lubed ’em, and I shot ’em. I also included a couple custom guns, in different stages of customization. One has just a couple minor modifications, while the other is completely custom.

Note that this shoot-out does NOT include any off-hand function/torture testing, as I have done with other shoot-outs. With nine guns being tested, there was simply no time. My apologies.

Following the shooting, all guns were stripped and cleaned, looking for any gross abnormalities. The pistols were then lubed, those owned by friends were tuned and polished up a bit, and all guns were then boxed up and stored. That said, let’s get on to Phase One…

PHASE ONE: “ INTRODUCTION AND STRIP-SEARCH”

Introduction

Here are the primary players in this year’s Shoot-out:



They are a new, 2009 Dan Wesson Valor; a new, 2009 Les Baer Thunder Ranch Special (TRS, for short), and a pre-owned but mint condition Ed Brown Kobra. Let’s get to know each one a bit…



Since 2008, the Valor has been the flagship pistol from Dan Wesson Firearms (a subsidiary of CZ-USA). The Valor features a black, Cerakote coated slide and frame made from forged stainless steel, match grade barrel, and high-end small parts, including a forged, Grieder slide stop, Wolff spring throughout, and single-side thumb and grip safeties from Ed Brown. The frame frontstrap and mainspring housing feature 25 lpi checkering, which is machine cut, and flawless. The Valor also features tritium night sights, including an adjustable rear made by Champion, and slim, checkered, composite grip panels.



The pistol comes in a very nice, form-fitted case, and includes 2 stainless magazines, bushing wrench, and instruction manual. Retail price on the 2009 Valor is $1577.00. This particular Valor being evaluated in brand-spankin’ New-In-Box (NIB).



The Les Baer Thunder Ranch Special is a no-nonsense combat pistol, built to perform to a high standard, without unnecessary frills. It features a forged, conventionally blued, carbon steel slide and frame, front and rear cocking serrations on the slide, carbon steel match barrel, high-cut and checkered frame frontstrap, slim grips with that awesome, TRS shield logo, single sided thumb safety, and fixed tritium night sights. Baer is known for making their own, high quality small parts, as well as slide and frame components.



The TRS comes in a very stark, plain (unmarked) cardboard box, with 3 stainless magazines, bushing wrench, cable lock, and “Baer Racing” logo patch for your range bag. Retail price on the 2009 TRS is $1990.00. As with the Valor, this particular TRS being tested is NIB.



The Kobra has been in the Ed Brown line-up for a few years now, and is a very handsome pistol. It features forged slide and frame components, sporting the now-famous “snakeskin” treatments on all grasping surfaces. The snakeskin is not only beautiful to look at, but it is what’s known as a ’uni-directional’ friction treatment; in that it allows the hand or fingers to slide along it in one direction, while “grasping you back“ when you attempt to move against it in the other direction. This particular Kobra is a two tone, with a blued, carbon steel slide atop a stainless frame; however, Ed Brown also offers the pistol in either all-blued or all-stainless construction. As with Baer, Ed Brown is known for making their own, high-quality parts and components. Retail price on the 2009 Kobra is $2195.00. Unlike the Valor and the TRS, this particular Kobra is pre-owned, and lent to me by a friend of ours, Mr. Robert (Bob) Bertrand, who is a member of the forum. Bob offered to send me this expensive pistol ’no-questions-asked’ for use during this shoot-out. The note he included with the gun simply stated “Here ya go, have fun!” . Mighty fine folks we have here…mighty fine!

OK…on to the ‘Strip Search’…
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Last edited by Dave Severns; 01-03-2010 at 06:41 PM.
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Old 01-03-2010, 06:31 PM
Dave Severns Dave Severns is offline
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Strip Search



As this is the Dan Wesson forum, let’s start with an in-depth look into the Valor. From an overall perspective, this is a beautiful pistol. If I had to define it in colorful terms, I’d call it ’smooth and sexy’. It looks sleek and refined, like a Ferrari. All exterior surfaces appear very well machined and finished. Not a raw edge to be found anywhere! The solid, aluminum trigger is well-fitted to the frame, with negligible up/down/side-to-side movement. The thumb safety snicks on and off smartly and “cleanly“, if that makes sense.



One issue with the Valor relates to it’s rear, adjustable sight. The entire rear “wedge” of the sight moves up and down, when adjusted for elevation, and not simply the rear blade, as with other sights. As such, a gap is created between the sight wedge and the top of the slide when the sight is cranked up to meet the needs of the shooter. Not a functional problem at all, but some shooters think it a bit unsightly. One thing DW also seems to do well, however, is the fitting of the slide to the frame. Always hand-lapped, and very snug, as can be seen here. The fit on this DW is, in my opinion, ‘perfect’, with relative movement between the two, as they are pulled and tugged, only evident when viewed under magnification. No movement can be felt!




Here is the Valor frontstrap, with it’s clean, machine-cut checkering. Unfortunately, one relative deficit to all Dan Wesson (DW) checkered frontstraps has been that the checkering terminates well below the underside of the trigger guard, as pictured here. This is a supposedly improved situation with the 2010 DWs. We’ll see…



Looking inside the stripped frame, here’s how the barrel mates with the feed ramp of the frame. Very well executed. The frame feed ramp appears of proper angle, depth, and radius, though its profile is somewhat subdued by the Cerakote finish. Note the beautiful polish on the barrel throat.



Looking at the muzzle of the pistol, we find a standard, G.I-style recoil assembly, with stainless spring plug, and a well-fit, stainless barrel bushing. The barrel bushing has been one area where DW has historically demonstrated a wee bit of variability in parts selection and fit. Changing this part in most DWs will yield a small, but measurable, increase in accuracy. In this case, the bushing is ‘tight and right’.



Next, let’s look at the fire control group (FCG), or hammer, sear, and disconnector. The Valor uses a cast, stainless hammer, that has proven to be durable. Some DW hammers on other models of earlier vintage have had brittle-ness problems, but this is a decent part. The stainless hammer strut shows significant signs of fitting (frankly, too much, in my experience with SS struts!), to as to clear the sear spring, grip safety, and mainspring housing. This is something not always done, even with more expensive semi-custom and custom guns! The sear is a good, tool steel part, that is known to hold a keen edge well. The disconnector is a very high quality part, made of premium-grade tool steel. Again, note the signs of hand-fitting, so that the disco lower, interior corner will not interfere with the magazine as it articulates.



Looking further at the sear, notice the two, shiny areas on the primary engagement face of the sear. This demonstrates complete engagement of the sear with the hammer hooks. For the more advanced pistolero, understand that these shiny areas do NOT guarantee that the hammer/sear engagement angles are necessarily correct; but simply that contact exists with both hammer hooks. You would be surprised how often this is not the case, even being observed on some expensive guns… Further, the length of the shiny areas says something (but not everything) about the engagement distance, or contact travel length, between the hammer and sear. I won’t go further into this issue, as I’m off-topic enough as it is…



Here is a close-up of the Valor sear spring, showing the smooth, hand-work on the portions of the spring leaves that contact the disconnector and sear. This is probably as nice as it gets, folks. Beautiful! Oh yes, how’s the trigger job? Very nice, indeed. Trigger breaks at exactly 4.0#, with a very crisp break, and limited over-travel. Some DWs demonstrate considerable pre-travel (take-up), due to their non-adjustable trigger, but this one is pretty nice, in that respect.


All in all, a very well constructed firearm, especially for a “factory” gun. Wonder how she’ll shoot? Time to move on…
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Last edited by Dave Severns; 01-03-2010 at 09:50 PM.
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Old 01-03-2010, 07:44 PM
Dave Severns Dave Severns is offline
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OK, on to the Les Baer Thunder Ranch Special (or TRS). Now folks, to speak personally for a second, this is my type of gun. A bit raw, definitely solid, and all-business. She just looks “hard”. If the DW is a Ferrari, the TRS is a Big Block ‘Vette. All she needs is a set of dark, hard-use grips, and she’s ready, right…? Looking at her, the first thing I notice is the finish. Standard bluing, that’ll wear easily on the high points. Looking closely, the bluing on starboard (that’s “right”, for you ground-pounders) side of the slide has a very, very slight, but noticeable, purpl-ish hue to it, when viewed in the right light. 99 out of 100 folks wouldn’t notice it at all, but ohh…that last guy… Moving on, the checkering on the frontstrap is terminated high up under the trigger guard, ‘as it should be’. In all disclosure, I have noticed a bit of variability in the radial mill-cut at the upper termination of the checkering. On some TRS’s, it is fine and very straight, as on this sample. On others, it consists of more of a V-groove, that is sometimes a bit inconsistent in width and horizontal straightness. Again, nothing bad by any means, and many would never notice it. Looking further, the fit of the grip safety is superb against the frame tangs for a production shop gun. The grips are beautiful, indeed, but I still cannot figure out why they choose stainless, slot-head screws on an otherwise black gun.



The fixed night sights are high-quality parts, and the rear sight is well fit. The front sight, however, could have used a few more seconds of fitting time, as evidenced by this gap below the underside of the dovetail.



Taking the TRS apart, we notice that she’s dirty. Machine/preservative oil, a bit of very fine grit, and a few tiny, tiny metal flecks remain from all the hand fitting. Do understand that the amount of hand-fitting is what sets Baer apart from the competition. It would just be nice if they’d clean the guns a bit better prior to final assembly and bagging, in my personal opinion.



Let’s look at the slide to frame fit-up. Unlike the Valor, which uses a hand-lapped s-t-f fit, the TRS uses a ‘draw-filed’ fit. While not as cosmetically appealing, it works. Note the ‘streaks’, or file marks on the sides of the frame rails. A very close inspections reveals two, shinier spots on the rails, where they are a couple ten-thousandths higher than the remainder of the material. Regarding the overall fit, it is good and tight, as with the Valor. No lateral play at all can be felt at the slide rear, and just an ever-so-slight amount can be perceived at the front, when manually testing for clearance between the slide and frame. All in all, a wee bit more variability than the DW, but still, a very good fit!



Here’s the frame/barrel bedding interface. The frame ramp is a bit narrow for my personal taste, but will likely work fine. The barrel throat shows evidence of break-over angle dressing via rotary means with a sanding wheel. A wee bit rough and angular for my taste, but checking with gages show she’s very safe with regard to depth, so no worries there.



The LB coup-de-gras is for certain their tight barrel fit. This sample is certainly no exception. Rock-solid lock-up of the barrel lower lugs, or “feet” with the slide stop pin, as evidenced by the hand-fit, shiny areas on the lugs. Ain’t no doubt this baby’s gonna shoot…



Let’s look at the FCG next… Very high quality parts here, folks! Hammer, sear, and disconnector are all high-grade tool steel parts, that’ll hold a trigger job for many, many rounds. Hammer strut and disco both show proper clearancing, as with the Valor. Trigger job quality? Pretty good, but not quite as nice as the Valor. 4.4# break, with a bit of creep, which, in turn, has a wee bit of roughness to it. Not a big deal. She’s a brand new pistol, and the hammer and sear mating surfaces simply need a bit of break-in. With the quality of the parts used, once these faces fully mate, they’ll be doggone smooth, and durable, to boot.

OK, let’s get to the Brown, shall we?
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Last edited by Dave Severns; 01-03-2010 at 08:25 PM.
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Old 01-03-2010, 08:59 PM
Dave Severns Dave Severns is offline
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OK, last but definitely not least, we have the Ed Brown Kobra. The key-word for this pistol would be “class“ or “refined“. Just damned classy to look at. If the Valor is a Ferrari and the TRS is a BB Vette, the Kobra would be a… Be a… Well…living on a dirt road in “outback“ Nevada, I guess I don’t rightly know! But I do know beauty when I see it, and this pistol is definitely IT! Even being a pre-owned gun, the overall fit and finish are just lovely.



Here’s a close-up of the trademark Kobra-skin fish scales on the frame frontstrap. What can I say, they feel great, and they look…well… you know…lovely…



Here’s a close-up of the thumb safety/grip safety area. Very nice fit, finish, and function of both components.



OK, let’s open her up and have a look-see. Here’s the frame/barrel interface Again, both are well-constructed and very well finished, though the barrel throat break-over is a bit heavily radiused for my taste. As with the Valor and the TRS, the barrel bedding against the frame abutment is right-on. A side note, the abutments of all 3 maker’s frames are relieved , providing the famous “bow-tie” marking on the barrel lower lugs.



Looking at the top of the barrel, we see evidence of hand-fitting of the rear, barrel upper locking lug recess with the slide. This indicates that the barrel has been fit to the slide locking lugs in order to achieve proper vertical position and adequate lock-up engagement.



In examining the lower lugs of the barrel, we lose a bit of that luster. Here, there is little evidence of lug bearing against the slide stop cross-pin. A bit the opposite of the TRS…



Evaluating the slide stop pin itself, note the somewhat lack-luster evidence of bearing with the barrel lower lugs. This might be an area where the gun could have been improved a bit. As with the TRS, I strongly prescribe to the “hard fit” school of barrel fitting.



Here we see the FCG of the Kobra. Again all good parts. All “Ed Brown”. Huh…imagine that… Anyhow, note the fitting on the interior of the disconnector, as with the DW and LB. The carbon steel hammer strut, however, shows no evidence of fitting. Also, note the difference in sear spring prep, as compared with the Valor spring. Not a big deal, but still a minor difference in attention to detail on this particular gun.



Remember that unfit hammer strut? Here’s the corresponding interior face of the sear spring. Note the evidence of hammer strut interference (rubbing) on the sear spring. A careful re-bending of the sear spring would likely eliminate this interference, as would removing a bit of material from the hammer strut, as was done on the other guns. Considering this, how’s the trigger pull? Truly, the strut rubbing is minimal, and the pull quality is great. 3.75” pull weight, and quite crisp, with just a wee bit felt interference just before the hammer drops. Barely perceptible to someone with a “tuned trigger finger“. Overall, a the Kobra is a beautiful gun, with a bit of room for a few, minor tweaks.

OK, that’s it for Phase 1. Hope it was at least somewhat useful and entertaining. At this point, let’s open things up for questions and comments, before proceeding to Phase 2...the ACTUAL SHOOTING!!
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Last edited by Dave Severns; 01-03-2010 at 09:05 PM.
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Old 01-03-2010, 09:08 PM
Ticeman Ticeman is offline
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Fantastic report so far! I have learned alot from this. So..put them in order in terms of overall:

1) Fit & Finish
2) Quality of materials
3) best gun for money of the three tested
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Old 01-03-2010, 09:09 PM
SuHu SuHu is offline
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Excellent writing and break down! Strange the sear spring wasn't prepped on the EB. Even the Colt I just picked up had it.
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Old 01-03-2010, 09:11 PM
Keith DW Keith DW is offline
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Nice Job Dave. More than I expected.
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Old 01-03-2010, 09:12 PM
NAMVET72 NAMVET72 is offline
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So all of them had their Good and Minor Points. But as been said before numerous time No Gun is Perfect, and IMO they all are Great 1911's. And most of all Thank You Dave and Bob for your Time and Patience.
So Dave which one would take the least amount of Gunsmith work to make run, almost perfect with the least amount of work?????????

Clyde
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Old 01-03-2010, 09:16 PM
Rimcrew Rimcrew is offline
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Wow, I think I just doubled my knowledge of 1911 fundamentals!

I hope this an appropriate question; on the lower barrel lugs of the EB, can one work the lugs to put a slight relief/radius that will mate better with the SS pin, or will that throw off the timing without a corresponding change in the link length?

Also, can you point out more clearly for my rookie eyes the work done to the rear upper lug of the EB to achieve better lockup?

Thanks again Dave for doing this. You can't imagine how helpful it is to someone who loves, but knows very little about 1911's.
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Old 01-03-2010, 09:20 PM
NewKimber+1 NewKimber+1 is offline
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Originally Posted by Rimcrew View Post
Wow, I think I just doubled my knowledge of 1911 fundamentals!

I hope this an appropriate question; on the lower barrel lugs of the EB, can one work the lugs to put a slight relief/radius that will mate better with the SS pin, or will that throw off the timing without a corresponding change in the link length?

Also, can you point out more clearly for my rookie eyes the work done to the rear upper lug of the EB to achieve better lockup?

Thanks again Dave for doing this. You can't imagine how helpful it is to someone who loves, but knows very little about 1911's.
Ditto! We are all goin' be better edumacated cuz of this.
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Old 01-03-2010, 09:24 PM
DW Steve DW Steve is online now
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Ditto! We are all goin' be better edumacated cuz of this.
Meeh, I knews alls this before them pictures, words and what not.

Seriously. I really appreciate your attention to the details in each of the customs. I can't wait to see how they all fair against the production jobs!
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Old 01-03-2010, 09:25 PM
Johnny Numbers Johnny Numbers is offline
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Coming from a 1911 rookie, my take on the evaluation so far, shows the Valor as a bit more refined as far as the overall fit of all internal parts. FCG, Barrel... everything.

1. Valor = Ferrari
2. LB = Vette
3. EB = Lamborghini?
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Last edited by Johnny Numbers; 01-03-2010 at 09:51 PM.
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Old 01-03-2010, 09:26 PM
Dave Severns Dave Severns is offline
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Originally Posted by Rimcrew View Post
I hope this an appropriate question; on the lower barrel lugs of the EB, can one work the lugs to put a slight relief/radius that will mate better with the SS pin, or will that throw off the timing without a corresponding change in the link length?

Also, can you point out more clearly for my rookie eyes the work done to the rear upper lug of the EB to achieve better lockup?
Thanks, Rim! Regarding your first question, it can either be a simple or complex fix. Regarding your next ques... Oh, you want an actual answer? OK, if the lack of bearing is minimal, AND the pin of the slide stop is less than the max. allowable (typically about 0.200" diameter), then you might be able to gain bearing by simply installing a different slide stop with a larger diameter pin. Barring this, the professional way to solve the problem is to either weld-up the barrel recess (best if the barrel is carbon steel), or swap out the barrel.

Regarding your second question, it's that little dark area...right...therrre...
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Old 01-03-2010, 09:35 PM
Rimcrew Rimcrew is offline
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Thanks Dave - I want to be like you when I grow up!
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Old 01-03-2010, 09:41 PM
NAMVET72 NAMVET72 is offline
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Thanks Dave - I want to be like you when I grow up!
When will that be??????????



Dave has been the reason this forum, has had many members and guests reading and visiting with his shootouts and gun comparsions............
Before I forget whose Valor and TRS were those?

Clyde
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Old 01-03-2010, 09:45 PM
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Dave,

Again thanks for an extraordinary expose. My prime interest is to see exactly what the extra shekels buy. The fancy exterior treatment like the snake scales is obvious, but the degree of barrel hard fitting seems to be the big variable among these three thus far and not what I would have expected. Minor differences among fire control group hand fitting too. Mmmmm..... very interesting!
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Old 01-03-2010, 10:25 PM
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Man I can`t wait to see how they all shot. I have been going nuts here waiting.
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Old 01-03-2010, 10:30 PM
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Another wonderful thread from Severns Custom. These "shoot-out" threads are going to become very, very popular. This one in particular is offering an excellent collection of specimens for testing.

I've enjoyed the read very much thus far and commend you for dumbing it down so it can be enjoyed by the masses!
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Old 01-03-2010, 10:37 PM
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Another wonderful thread from Severns Custom. These "shoot-out" threads are going to become very, very popular. This one in particular is offering an excellent collection of specimens for testing.

I've enjoyed the read very much thus far and commend you for dumbing it down so it can be enjoyed by the masses!
Beats the heck out of Gun Test magazine.
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Old 01-03-2010, 10:47 PM
Dave Severns Dave Severns is offline
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The testing:

PHASE TWO: LET ‘EM EAT

The Introduction:

Time to see what these firearms will do in the field. As with our last shoot-out, we shot 3 groups of three different loads from each of NINE different guns, from a mechanical vice (“Ransom Rest”), with the targets placed at a measured distance of 25 yards from the muzzle.



Again, this was done for fun, and is anything but scientific; however, I did try to keep things “on the level” as best was possible. In that light, we again benefited from the aid of my friend, Bill Vining. Hopefully, you all know Bill’s bio by now, so I won’t go into that, but rest assured, if I had let things slip a mite, I’d have heard about it from “Bad Bill”.

OK, the players:



Here were the six “original” 45acp guns planned for this portion of the Shoot-Out. They are:

NIB, 2009 Dan Wesson Valor
NIB, 2009 Les Baer Thunder Ranch Special
Mint condition Ed Brown Kobra, owned by a forum member; no modifications
NIB, 2009 Colt Combat Elite
As-new, 2008 Sig GSR; modified via replaced sights and thumb safety
2009 Fusion Government Model “Kit Gun” (with the magwell), owned by a forum member

Well, things being what they are, we had some last-minute “walk-on” players (imagine that), including:

2008 Severns Custom modified DW Valor, modified via gunsmith fit barrel bushing, grips and a satin silver bead-blast finish. No other modifications
2009 Fusion Firearms Commander Bobtail, in 9mm, owned by a forum member. An $1800 +/- custom ordered gun.
1996 Kimber “Series I” Classic Custom, in 45acp (told ya there’d be a surprise or two…) . This gun is factory original, except for installation of Novak sights and an Ed Brown snakeskin mainspring housing, to get rid of that doggone plastic piece…

I wanted to include the “Kit Gun”, to see how a customer-built weapon might fare against a factory gun. The Colt, Sig, and Kimber guns were added to satisfy that hidden curiosity that I…ahem…just know you have…and the custom/modified guns were added just because it’s my test, and I can do whatever the heck I want to! Well, with Wes’ permission, I can…

Let’s see some shootin’ pics, shall we?



Here’s the first two up to the plate…the Sig and the Kobra. Note that the Sig has had the gawd-awful factory thumb safety swapped out in favor of an STI part, and it also wears Novak black iron sights, in lieu of the factory 3-dots. Other than that, it is factory stock.



Here’s the Sig, clamped into the Ransom Rest. Note again that the grip panels (and the magwell, in the case of the Kit Gun) must be removed from the pistols before they can be mounted in the vice.



This is the TRS without skivvies, along with a test target. Uh-ohh…that one looks pretty guud…!



Here’s a better view of the Fusion Firearms “Kit Gun”. She’s in for a make-over, and I’m…um…just sure that Jon would think it OK to umm…test here while she’s here. Right? Heh… Thanks, man!

Tongue out of cheek, the testing went very well overall, although two complications did arise. First, the female clamshell molds are designed to index (position) the pistol by it’s grip screw bushings. It is consequently relatively difficult and time-consuming to precisely locate pistols having non-conventional (i.e. slim) grip screw bushings. Not impossible, by any means, just tedious. Secondly, I had forgotten in packing range supplies that the Fusion Kit Gun has a very short trigger. This, in combination with the amount of take-up in the trigger pull meant that the trigger actuator lever on the Ransom Rest would “bottom out” on the base plate casting just before the hammer would fall. The trigger bar is, of course, adjustable, but I forgot my adjustment wrench back at the shop. This, in conjunction with us literally running out of daylight meant no RR testing for the Kit Gun. Not to worry, as have data available. Jon advises that he routinely shoots ½” groups at 50 yards with the gun, so we’ll just have to live with that.

OK, on to the numbers and the targets…
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Last edited by Dave Severns; 01-03-2010 at 11:44 PM.
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  #21  
Old 01-04-2010, 01:15 AM
Dave Severns Dave Severns is offline
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The Finale...

OK, here we go…

As you can imagine, we generated quite a stack of targets. Prior to the compiling of any ‘scored’ targets, each pistol fired one, 5-shot magazine of Winchester White Box ammo, to seat the gun in the vice, clean out any oil residue (cobwebs?) in the barrel, and ensure that the gun was compatible with the mag chosen. After this test mag, the gun was tightened in the mag, and formal testing commenced. For all but one gun (the TRS), an “old-school” Chip McCormick Power Mag, with the older style, split-leaf follower was used. Notable, there were ZERO failures to feed, (or extract) with any gun, using this mag, throughout the testing. The TRS had a frontstrap vertical length dimension just a few thousandths of an inch too long to properly receive this particular mag (with a custom-installed Wilson Combat, low-profile, steel base plate), and so a 2008 style DW mag, with its removable polymer base plate, was used for this portion of the testing. Imagine the irony…a Les Baer shooting with a Dan Wesson mag…

All 45acp guns were tested using Win White Box 230 gr ball, Remington 230 gr ball, and my 200gr H&G 68 style lead semi-wadcutter (LSWC) hand-loaded practice ammo. The one, 9mm pistol was tested using only American Eagle ball ammo. All mags were limited to 5 rounds each. The best group of each ammo was retained for final scoring, for each of the 8 pistols. Again, this is admittedly not scientific in approach, but it is easy and I am lazy. Can I be any more honest than that?

With that, in no specific order, here are the best groups shot by each gun tested, in inches, with each of the 3 ammo types. Ammo will be listed in the following order: Win White Box (WWB); Rem Ball (REM), and LSWC hand loads (LSWC).
WWB REM LSWC
Dan Wesson Valor 1.56 1.08 1.43
Les Baer TRS 1.17 0.96 1.39
Ed Brown Kobra 3.11 1.35 1.41
Kimber Classic Custom 3.15 1.13 1.55
Sig GSR 2.43 1.29 1.55
Colt Combat Elite 6.50 4.75 3.82
Severns Modified Valor 1.21 0.95 0.79
Fusion 9mm CBOB Group 1: 1.43 Group 2: 1.25 Group 3: 1.64

Note that, in all but two of the cases, the guns shot better using the Remington factory ball ammo than my hand loads. This is atypical, in my experience, and quite opposite from what we found out last month when testing the Commander-length pistols. Of no technical significance, but also interesting in a humorous way, is that the most and the least accurate of the guns preferred the LSWC ammo. Again, with this limited amount of testing, these observations mean little.

Looking at the average of (only) these three groups, we see the following relative rankings, in terms of group sizes, from smallest to largest:

1. Severns Modified Valor 0.98”
2. Les Baer TRS 1.17”
3. Dan Wesson Valor 1.36“
4. Fusion CBOB 1.44”
4. Sig GSR 1.76”
5. Kimber Classic Custom 1.94”
6. Ed Brown Kobra 1.96”
7. Colt Combat Elite 5.03”

While this data set is so limited that conclusions cannot be hard and fast, we can glean from this some general notions. First, it generally follows that the tighter fitted guns are more accurate than the more loosely fitted guns. One could also see with a modest degree of correlation that the lesser expensive guns are also less accurate. That said, there were also some counter-intuitive findings. Following are some observations on each of the guns, along with photos showing each of their best targets:

The Severns Custom modified Valor:



Frankly, I am surprised that this gun shot this well, as I didn‘t really do much work on it. Just a tight barrel bushing, and some cosmetics. If you look at the stock Valor group sizes as a baseline, it is highly unlikely that a bushing swap would make this much of an improvement in accuracy. More likely is that the silver Valor was just an exceptionally good gun to start with.

The Baer TRS:



While a bit rough around the edges, I just love this pistol! It truly is exactly what it is marketed to be; a no-nonsense fighting gun. A bit of cleaning up, some grips, and a Hard Hat finish, and…wow! Honestly, it shot exactly as it should have. Note that this is just a standard ‘3.0” at 50 yard‘ gun, and it clearly can shoot better than that, right from the box!

The Dan Wesson Valor:



Another winner! Looks, quality parts, and attention to detail, all wrapped up in one, sleek package. She shot just a hair outside of the TRS, with it’s hard-fit barrel, and that’s really saying something for a pistols that’s $400 or so lower in price. As with the TRS, with the Valor, you really do get what you pay for!

The Fusion CBOB:



The Fusion shot cheap, factory ball ammo surprisingly well, and was a nice pistol, to boot. A very solid pistol, made from quality parts. In the interest of full-disclosure, this pistol came to me needing help in the feeding department. I had to do some machining work on the barrel to rectify the problems, but she now runs like butter. Hopefully, this was just an isolated bug. Very cool pistol!

The Sig GSR:



I have shot the Sig before off-hand, and knew it to be accurate. This was confirmed by the rest testing. Personally, while I don’t care for their firing pin safety nor their Colt-ish trigger pull quality, these tend to be really accurate pistols. Their barrels seem pretty nice, for factory parts. Nice gun, for sure!

The Kimber:



Anyone who knows me knows I am not a real fan of the newer Kimbers. However, I own many of the original “Series I" guns, and other than their cheesy, plastic mainspring housing and debatable quality of their Metal Injection Molded (MIM) small parts, they are honestly good guns. Back in the day, they would shoot 1.5” to 2.5” groups with regularity, and this model was no different. Hey, how about that group when shooting the Remington ammo! Wow, that’s great!

The Ed Brown Kobra:



Many would likely have thought the Kobra, the most expensive (and likely the most beautiful) pistol, to have been the most accurate. Well, I think this notion can be somewhat dispelled when we recall the fit of the aft end of the barrel. Also, recall that its ranking is largely due to the poor showing of this gun when shooting WIN ammo. The Kobra shot the other two brands quite well! All in all, it’s a very, very sexy gun…

The Colt



Alas, the poor Colt. Being a long-time Colt fancier, I was really disappointed at how consistently poorly this particular Combat Elite shot. This was evidenced not only in these 3, ‘best’ targets, but in all of it’s shooting. I have not taken the gun apart to find out what is to blame, but suspect it to be in the barrel and bushing fit. Additionally, this pistol’s heavy, long trigger pull may have had some impact on how it shot from the rest. Please understand that Colts simply do not normally shoot this poorly. Perhaps I’ll throw in an after-market barrel and bushing, and give her a quick trigger job, and see what happens...


In Closing…

Well folks, that’s all I’ve got. This was fun and exciting for me, and I hope it was at least somewhat entertaining and insightful for you, as well. Again, please consider this merely a “for fun” article, and draw from it your own conclusions. I hope that you will accept this as my Holiday gift to you, the faithful members of the world’s best internet forum. It continues to be an honor and a privilege to serve all of you.
Respectfully submitted,
Dave Severns

Edited to add: Some of you asked for videos of the Ransom Rest test firing. OK, you got it. Consider these a down-payment for next year's Holiday gift...

LB TRS Video I:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhRzp9QUpk8

LB TRS Video II:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CAaue3butk

DW Valor:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0CckG9lHus

Severns Custom modified Valor:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syHlrV0dWWM

Colt Combat Elite
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YjZCODET5jg

Kimber Classic Custom I
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgwmXbPqPco

Kimber Classic Custom II
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qj_FUFK2F20

Hey, I told y'all I'd be done at midnight, and I'm 23 minutes early. Woo Hoo! Ha...
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Last edited by Dave Severns; 01-04-2010 at 01:37 AM.
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  #22  
Old 01-04-2010, 02:01 AM
sevenplusone sevenplusone is offline
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Location: Kent County, MI
Age: 28
Posts: 1,219
Man I love this forum.

Thanks for taking the time Dave...it must be rough shooting almost $20,000 worth of pistols.
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  #23  
Old 01-04-2010, 02:04 AM
NAMVET72 NAMVET72 is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Kersey, Pa.
Age: 63
Posts: 7,725
Thank You Dave for the gun comparsions and pics, I liked the end part the best with the Videos...... Most of all for you time and patience. I hope you enjoyed yourself out of your shop for awhile. We know that you spend alot of time in there..............

Clyde

BTW Dave tell us what was the Severns Custom 1911 was before you worked on it???????????
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Last edited by NAMVET72; 01-04-2010 at 02:07 AM.
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  #24  
Old 01-04-2010, 02:05 AM
PurePursuit PurePursuit is offline
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Thanks for taking the time to do such a great write up with pics/video. Awesome stuff.
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  #25  
Old 01-04-2010, 02:14 AM
GB0 GB0 is offline
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Excellent post Mr. Severns, thanks for taking the time to illustrate many of the unseen differences, as perceived by a professional who clearly understands the finer points of the 1911. I had wondered for so long what makes the $1K difference.
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