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Old 05-19-2011, 06:54 PM
Joe C Joe C is offline
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Ruger SR1911 Review: UPDATED with Range Report




Not sure if you guys here would be interested, but here is a little something I wrote up last night:

This is my review of the Ruger SR1911 I received into the shop today. This is a gun I purchased from a distributor personally so there was no chance at getting a “biased” one (if there is such a thing) from a rep. I believe the measurements listed below to be what a person could expect should they decide to purchase one commercially at the time of this evaluation and writing.

I will first list all the measured specs along with some personal comments based on how I would normally build a gun from scratch. At the end I will give my overall impression of the firearm and recommendations. Please keep in mind that at the time of this writing I have not shot the gun. I have simply taken it apart, evaluated and measured it piece by piece. My personal comments and opinions you will read below are simply that, my personal views. My comments regarding what the numbers are or should be can be backed up by not only the 30+ years of study and guns built by my mentor Bob Marvel, but also the guns I have built in the past that have and continue to perform for their owners at the highest level of reliability and accuracy.

Slide to Frame Fit:

The frame rails measure .74860” in width, .0990” and .0985” in height, and the way of the frame measures .1185” and .1180 respectively.

The slide way measures .7580” in width, .1045” in height, and the rails of the slide measure .1160” and .1165” respectively.

This allows for a difference of .0094” side to side (horizontal) and about .002” up and down (vertical). Typically when fitting a slide to frame I shoot for between .0002”-.0005” horizontal and less than .001” vertical. The good news is the slide checks out as being parallel in the ways and rails so it would be an easy cure to have the frame rails welded up and re-machined if a person desired a better fit.

The slide does overhang the rear of the frame by about .008” which would be barely noticeable to most and it a great deal better than many of the production guns on the market today.

Barrel and Barrel Fit:

The o.d. of the barrel measures .5812” in the bushing bearing area and .5750” past that area. The area underneath the radial lugs has not been relieved and may cause binding on the frame during cycling. This area should be relieved in my opinion.

The bushing i.d. measures .5835” for a tolerance of .0023”. While this is much tighter than other “stock guns” I have measured it is not what I would consider “match”. In my opinion a “match” fit bushing should have a difference in tolerance of less than .001” when fit properly with the correct reliefs made to allow for function.

The bushing o.d. is .6967” and the slide i.d. is .703” for a tolerance of .0063”. The bushing also has play fore and aft in the slide. The bushing is in other words very loose in the slide which is not uncommon on “stock” guns. It does however affect accuracy and is easily corrected with a new properly fit bushing.

The barrel is not finish crowned which does affect the accuracy as it can cause the bullet to leave the bore unevenly.

The barrel hood to breach face gap on this pistol measured .008”. The range for best accuracy is from less than .001” to .0025” max with a correct match chamber depth of .905”-.908”. Unfortunately due to the loaded chamber cut in the top of the hood I do not think this issue could be corrected by welding and re-machining the hood. However, I will explore the possibility as I feel it would enhance the accuracy.

The chamber is not finish reamed and is not polished. It measures .898” from the back of the hood. The barrel throat is the proper concave shape but is unpolished.

There is no perceptible fit between the barrel legs and the slide stop pin. The legs measure .0915 from the outside edge of the link pin hole to the flat. The link bridge (the part that corresponds to the height of the barrel legs) measures .099” meaning that the slide stop is resting on the link as opposed to the barrel legs. The slide stop link hole measures .204” which is part of the reason the barrel has barrel bump on the front of the legs as the barrel does not have enough movement during cycling due to the tight link hole to help prevent the legs from bumping the slide stop. It may be possible to have some leg fit on the barrel if a new bushing and slide stop were installed in the gun. Having the slide lowered on the frame by means of either accu-rail, peening or welding and re-machining would also aid in acquiring barrel fit on the legs.

The slide stop appears to be MIM. The pin measures .1965” in diameter and has a flat on the bottom. It is also shaped in such a way on the nose as to cause rounds to bump it during feeding causing accuracy and reliability issues.

Extractor:

The extractor is very close to the correct specs for length from the front of the firing pin stop slot to the rear edge of the hook at 2.257” (correct measurement is 2.250” +/- .005”). It does have a bit too much tension but this appears to be caused by the fact that the tip of the hook is slightly too fat allowing the round to be held by said tip on the rebate of the round instead of on the rim of the case by the flat of the extractor. This causes accuracy and reliability issues as it does not allow the round to be held in the chamber the same each time and causes an interruption in the feeding process.

Guide Rod, Plug and Recoil Spring:

The guide rod appears to be a solid stainless steel piece of government length. It is not modified on the back side which is allowing it to hit the front of the barrel legs during cycling. This affects both accuracy and reliability. The plug has not been beveled on the inside edge which causes the spring to bind slightly while cycling. The spring is 20 pound which in my opinion is a bit heavy. A correct spring weight would be 18 pounds for normal ball and self defense type loads.

Frame:

The magwell of the frame has been opened evenly and cleanly to allow for easier mag insertion.

The vertical impact surface (VIZ) has little to no relief which over time will allow the barrel legs to strike low in the frame which can cause the legs to break off the barrel.

The frame ramp is machined to a depth of .425” which is good. However, it appears to have been plunge cut with a 15/32” cutter and is therefore not wide enough to feed most hollow point or wadcutter loads. This needs to be widened. It has also not been moved forward too much which would allow for the fitting of a Kart NM barrel without much difficulty.

Three of the four grip screw bushing protrude into the frame which can cause certain mags to hang up when attempting to eject them.

Ejector:

The ejector is an extended variety that has been pinned in place. It is of a suitable length at 1.060 from front to back. However, the nose has been shaped at a downward angle as opposed to a rearward angle which would be preferred for consistent ejection.

Ejection Port:

The ejection port has been cut to a depth of .450” from the bottom of the slide with a radius of 3/8”. While this is sufficient, it would serve better were it lowered to a depth of .400” with a Ό” cutter.

continued...
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Last edited by Joe C; 05-22-2011 at 11:43 PM.
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  #2  
Old 05-19-2011, 06:54 PM
Joe C Joe C is offline
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Fire Control Parts:

The mainspring housing appears to be made of stainless steel that has been blackened. It sports sharp checkering with enough meat left to remove the checkering if another treatment such as stippling is desired. It is loose in the frame and should be tightened. The mainspring itself appears to be a 25 pound spring which is a bit strong in my opinion but is probably needed in order to allow the firing pin, which is titanium, to set off the primer consistently.

The grips safety appears to be a stainless steel MIM part. There is a lot to be desired in having it blended to the frame. That being said, the frame tangs have not been overcut as to make it unsightly if it were dressed up a bit. It has been set in such a way as to allow for minimum pressure to release it while still engaging and has the relief cut on the arm to allow it to be removed without removing the mainspring housing.

The thumb safety appears to be a carbon MIM part. It functions as it should. It does hang over the edge of the frame when disengaged but does not reveal the access hole when engaged. This is a small problem that could be fixed either by blending and re-bluing it or welding it on the inside and refitting it to the frame.

The sear spring is of the standard variety and has not been modified on the ends of the fingers for smooth function.

The hammer appears to be MIM. It does have a positive half cock notch. The hooks of the hammer are .0265” long and undressed. The distance from the outside of the pin hole to the primary hammer flat is .200” which is within the acceptable range of .200”-.205” for good geometry.

The sear appears to be MIM. The oal measures .768” which may appear a bit short. However, the distance from the pin to the engagement surface measures .455” which should be long enough to allow for the primary surface to be cut and polished to a correct angle as it is currently in the rough as is the rest of the sear.

The disconnector appears to be MIM. It is unpolished and measures 1.305” which falls within the proper specifications. The slide does stall slightly on the disconnector due to the lack of the MCP disconnector cut in addition to having a great deal of pressure on the middle leaf of the sear spring.

The hammer strut is a rough stamping and is rubbing both the sear spring and the mainspring housing. This part would be suitable to use if it were corrected and dressed to clean up its appearance.

The trigger itself is of excellent quality. The fit of the shoe is good both vertically and horizontally. The bow protrudes into the frame and is not polished. This allows the bow of the trigger to rub against the mags as the trigger is pulled affecting the feel and weight of the trigger pull.

The trigger pull from the factory on this gun is a crisp 4lbs 14oz. There is sometimes a bit of a click when the trigger is starting to be pulled which is probably due to the unfinished surfaces of the hammer, sear, disconnector and trigger bow. This is nothing that could not be fixed with a proper trigger job.

The firing pin is appears to be titanium and has a tip diameter of .093” which is considered the standard .45acp diameter. It could be replaced with a standard steel firing pin.

The firing pin plate is fit much better than on other production guns. While it is not “match” tight, it is not sloppy loose either and does not allow the extractor to clock or move fore and aft.

The mag catch does not appear to be MIM. It appears to be made by a popular parts maker of whom I will not name but whose parts I know very well and feel are of excellent quality. The nose of the mag catch does hit the mag follower during cycling which can cause accuracy and reliability issues.

Sights:

The rear sight is of the Novak variety and the bottom of the cut measures .185” from the top of the slide. This would prevent installing another style of sight without installing a Dutchman and re-cutting it. There are adjustable sights for this cut made by KFS which helps for those desiring adjustability.

The front sight .210” high and is a bit shorter in length than a traditional sight being cut forward to the rear of the dovetail with a forward raked angle. It has a white dot which corresponds with the dots on the back of the rear sight. It has been relieved on the sides and there is no gap between the sight and the slide unlike some recent production guns.

Grips and Screws:

The grips are very nicely done cocobolos that have been checkered in the double diamond fashion with a boarder on the front and back. They sport the black Ruger logo coins in them. They are held on by hex head grip screws which is a nice touch in my opinion.

Overall Appearance:

To be totally honest with you, I like the look of the gun. The slide has a nice bevel on the bottom edge that is not commonly seen on production guns in this price range. The rear cocking serrations are just enough. The finish is very even. The front of the slide is slightly beveled, unevenly, but beveled none the less. My gun did come with a very slight ding on the trigger guard and front strap, but it is not a huge deal considering the cosmetics I have seen on other production guns. I like the memory bump on the grip safety. The grip safety could have been blended a bit better, but again; it is a production gun and fits a lot better than others. The thumb safety pad is pretty flat, but at least it is extended and serrated evenly.

Opinions:

Over the years I have had the “pleasure” of evaluating nearly every maker of production class 1911’s on the market in some form or fashion as well as many guns built by other custom smiths. Most would say that I tend to be a bit too critical. However, I take my work very seriously as I feel the consumer deserves the best product for their money especially when said product may be used to save a person’s life someday.

There are a few reservations I have regarding this pistol as a professional custom pistolsmith. On one hand I am very happy that Ruger decided to laser engrave the markings on the gun as it makes it very easy to remove the logos on the slide and the warning on the bottom side of the dust cover. On the other hand, the serial number seems to be engraved rather lightly which would most likely prohibit sanding and polishing the frame. That being said, there is nothing wrong with an all blasted matte finished stainless steel gun in my opinion.

Another reservation is that the plunger tube is integral to the frame. Is it really an issue? Probably not, unless you happen to crush it in such a way that it renders the thumb safety in the up position and inoperable during a desperate time of need. Which begs the question, have I ever seen one crushed? Yes I have. But it is very rare and because of its rarity I would not consider it a downfall of the gun. It is much better than having a plunger tube that has not been staked properly that comes loose after a couple of hundred rounds.

To some the MIM parts may be a concern. I can say that over the years, on particular makers’ guns, I have seen MIM thumb safeties and mag catches break. I have personally never seen a hammer, sear or disconnector break. I have seen guns with MIM sears go tens of thousands of rounds with excellent triggers though. Again, this would not be as much of a concern to me if I were considering purchasing this pistol as would the oal of the sear.

My opinion on the sights is really more of a personal matter. I have never cared for the Novak style of cut or sight. Personally I wish Ruger had simply done a GI cut as it would have given the end user the option of having whatever they preferred put on the gun. But then for the price one can’t be too picky and as aforementioned, there are options out there if adjustable sights are desired.

I would say after inspecting and measuring this gun that for a retail price of around $650.00 +/- (the price I have been seeing on the market) this gun is well worth the money. Are there things that need to be corrected or changed? Yes, but that is the case with all the production class guns being built. There is only so much a company can do and still have a gun that is affordable. But, it appears from this example that Ruger has built a gun that is a solid foundation for either a casual plinker or an everyday use gun, provided some changes were made, in my opinion. If a side by side comparison of popular production guns priced under $1,000.00 (and certainly below $700.00) was done I feel the Ruger would be the winner. And yes, I love the fact that it is a series 70 gun! Your experience may vary.

Next up I will be taking the stock gun to the range to function fire it as it came with a variety of ammo ranging from standard ball ammo to modern day hollow points and wadcutters. I see no point in ransom rest testing the gun in this configuration as there are a number of factors, not the least of which is the trigger pull, which would adversely affect the results.

Thank you for reading my review. Feel free to leave comments or questions and I will get to them as time permits.

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  #3  
Old 05-19-2011, 07:30 PM
gocanes gocanes is offline
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Thanks for taking the time to write up such a detailed and informative review! Its nice to know what an expert thinks on a pistol.
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Old 05-19-2011, 10:12 PM
gkos59 gkos59 is offline
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Thanks for such a detailed review. Fantastic work and really appreciated.
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Old 05-20-2011, 01:02 AM
Boge Boge is offline
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Thanks. Professional & objective reporting. Now for the big question: in your opinion is it a worthwhile base gun to make into a top shelf 1911 or would the cash outlay simply prevent it from being economically feasible and one would be better off say buying a Baer or upper tier Springfield Armory 1911?
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Old 05-20-2011, 02:27 AM
CrookedShooter CrookedShooter is offline
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You are the man Joe... Thank you very much. Great job.
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Old 05-20-2011, 03:18 AM
Aussie D Aussie D is offline
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Ruger SR1911

Thanks Joe, for a detailed, unbiased, factual appraisal of the Ruger 1911.

I look forward to reading how the range report goes.

Here in australia, several dealers are taking pre orders. The downside is the only way to own any calibre semi auto pistol over 38/9mm dia is to be a licensend Target Pistol Shooter and use it only for Metallic Silhouette competition use.

Cheers,

Aussie D

Who would up trade to a .45ACP in a heartbeat if allowed....
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Old 05-20-2011, 09:25 AM
repins1911 repins1911 is offline
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This is the most unbiased evaluation I have read in a very long time. Very well written and appreciate the time it took to prepare. Well done!
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Old 05-20-2011, 09:31 AM
Amsdorf Amsdorf is offline
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Great review. Probably belongs in the "Other 1911" forum, or in the dedicated Ruger SR1911 forum.

Oh, wait, the SR1911 does not have its own dedicated forum.

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Old 05-20-2011, 09:34 AM
Amsdorf Amsdorf is offline
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Wow, awesome review. Thanks! I think it proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the Ruger SR1911 is not a custom 1911 costing thousands of dollars. But it is sure one heck of a 1911 for $600. Wonder how it compares to RIAs, etc.?

I'm smiling at the thought of how many millions of 1911s have been in use, have been very accurate and faithful tools in the hands of soldiers and LEOs for many years that never came close to the kind of tolerances the reviewer is citing as being a fault in the SR1911.

Can't wait to read your range report.

Last edited by Amsdorf; 05-20-2011 at 09:38 AM.
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Old 05-20-2011, 09:51 AM
Spammy_H Spammy_H is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amsdorf View Post
Wow, awesome review. Thanks! I think it proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the Ruger SR1911 is not a custom 1911 costing thousands of dollars. But it is sure one heck of a 1911 for $600. Wonder how it compares to RIAs, etc.?

I'm smiling at the thought of how many millions of 1911s have been in use, have been very accurate and faithful tools in the hands of soldiers and LEOs for many years that never came close to the kind of tolerances the reviewer is citing as being a fault in the SR1911.

Can't wait to read your range report.
Amsdorf - I think that you are missing the point of the review. I don't think the reviewer is faulting the gun, but simply pointing out where this gun could be better when compared to match quality. The original 1911 design had huge tolerances for reliability, esp. when faced with the production technology and metallurgy of the early 20th century.

What Joe is saying is that when you compare to "ideal" or "match" quality, here's where the SR1911 stands.

I would bet if Joe were to review a Springfield Loaded, STI, etc., you'd hear the same things being said.

This is a production gun. To get to match quality tolerances, a great deal of hand fitting is required. That's why an Ed Brown, Les Baer, Wilson Combat, etc. cost $2200 - $3000, rather than $650.
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Old 05-20-2011, 10:15 AM
olds45512 olds45512 is offline
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Thanks for the detailed reveiw, hopefully mine comes in soon. I feel like a kid waiting for christmas morning. Lol
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Old 05-20-2011, 10:37 AM
Imbel45 Imbel45 is offline
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Joe thank youfor the very objectic and unbiased review of teh SR1911......definately is a great bang for the buck!...........of course with some "hand fitting" the gun will be more than outstanding, but given the price and tolerances you described, I think is a great gun............here in my country, the Ruger Dealer is taking pre-orders . Unfortunately due to taxes the price is not $650...........according to the dealer the price will be around $1000 to $1100
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Old 05-20-2011, 10:39 AM
Amsdorf Amsdorf is offline
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Originally Posted by Spammy_H View Post
Amsdorf - I think that you are missing the What Joe is saying is that when you compare to "ideal" or "match" quality, here's where the SR1911 stands.

That's why an Ed Brown, Les Baer, Wilson Combat, etc. cost $2200 - $3000, rather than $650.
Does anyone really think a $600 1911 will be as good as a $2-4K custom?

I guess maybe somebody does.

Joe did a great job reviewing it, but I don't think there were/are any surprises.
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Old 05-20-2011, 10:40 AM
Amsdorf Amsdorf is offline
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Originally Posted by Imbel45 View Post
Hhere in my country, the Ruger Dealer is taking pre-orders . Unfortunately due to taxes the price is not $650...........according to the dealer the price will be around $1000 to $1100

Wow.
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Old 05-20-2011, 11:20 AM
Imbel45 Imbel45 is offline
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Originally Posted by Amsdorf View Post
Wow.

Yes, here all firearms pay 30% taxes plus whatever the dealer wants to mke as a profit.........

Just to give you an idea:

Glock17 in USA $550-$600 here $1200
Kimber 1911 USA $750-$900 here $1400
Beretta PX USA $650-$750 here $1400-$1500
S&W MP USA $550-$600 here $900

And did I mentioned that we do not get paid in US currency??.....buying a gun down here is really expensive!!!!................

The funny part is that if you buy a gun say in 2011 for $1000 here, you will be able to sell it for the same $1000 in 2014....there is no mark-down in prices for used guns
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Old 05-20-2011, 11:20 AM
Spammy_H Spammy_H is offline
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Originally Posted by Amsdorf View Post
Does anyone really think a $600 1911 will be as good as a $2-4K custom?

I guess maybe somebody does.

Joe did a great job reviewing it, but I don't think there were/are any surprises.
Perhaps I misunderstood your post. I understood from the tone that you were being critical of his review. My fault - I didn't get the sarcasm. Can't say that I don't use a lot of it myself, just didn't get it this time.
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Old 05-20-2011, 01:16 PM
Joe C Joe C is offline
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Originally Posted by Boge View Post
Thanks. Professional & objective reporting. Now for the big question: in your opinion is it a worthwhile base gun to make into a top shelf 1911 or would the cash outlay simply prevent it from being economically feasible and one would be better off say buying a Baer or upper tier Springfield Armory 1911?
Boge,

I think depending on what you are looking to do as far as finish and sights, yes it could be. It also depends on what you consider "top shelf". Keep in mind that if you were to make it into a "top shelf 1911" there are a number of parts that I personally would recommend you replace. That being said, it is my opinion that with some adjustments to the parts in the gun, the replacement of the slide stop, bushing and link, you could have a gun that would be a great value, very reliable and suitably accurate. I might even go so far as to say it could give some of the other "top shelf" names a run for the money if corrected properly...

Someone asked about how it compares to a RIA...well, I haven't done a "formal" evaluation of an RIA like this one (although I'd be glad to if someone wanted to send an unmodified one to me to spec out). I have worked on them (shussh, don't tell anyone that) and have shot them a bit. Although they are fine pistols, they are what they are and in my opinion (and that's all this is) the Ruger is a nicer gun and well worth the additional money.

Thanks again for taking the time to read the review.

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Old 05-20-2011, 05:03 PM
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Very interesting indeed - thanks for taking all that time stripping it down, measuring all the parts and then writing the review, Joe
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Old 05-20-2011, 05:25 PM
DevilDave1911 DevilDave1911 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amsdorf View Post
Wow, awesome review. Thanks! I think it proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the Ruger SR1911 is not a custom 1911 costing thousands of dollars. But it is sure one heck of a 1911 for $600. Wonder how it compares to RIAs, etc.?

I'm smiling at the thought of how many millions of 1911s have been in use, have been very accurate and faithful tools in the hands of soldiers and LEOs for many years that never came close to the kind of tolerances the reviewer is citing as being a fault in the SR1911.

Can't wait to read your range report.
Heads and Tails above a RIA. Tops Taurus easily. I would say its apples to apples with a well fit Springfield Loaded at a $150 less (there are some that aren't fit so good)...nice thing though...no fugly fcs, 100% american made, high quality slide and frame, no ugly billboard rolls, tasteful grips. Things I'd change or request, solid trigger or standard 3 hole trigger, all ss controls, stupid warning removed from dust cover. overall...impressive for the money.
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Old 05-20-2011, 05:43 PM
Amsdorf Amsdorf is offline
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I'd be VERY worried if I were RIA or Taurus.

For a $100-$150 more people can buy a made in USA 1911 that is superior to their products.
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Old 05-20-2011, 05:54 PM
chuntaro chuntaro is offline
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Thanks Mr. Chambers for your work in this review. If you have other reviews saved for other guns in this price range and posted them in way they were accessible, it may save a great number of pistol x vs pistol y threads at least in this price range and may cause some to re-think some of their bias. I would love to see this kind of detail, presented in this fashion and available to the consumer. I recognize you do need time to perform work on customers guns though. Maybe you will be approached and receive offers not to review products since you have no magazines of the publication variety or advertising to sell. Great job!
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Old 05-20-2011, 05:56 PM
Amsdorf Amsdorf is offline
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Originally Posted by Spammy_H View Post
Perhaps I misunderstood your post. I understood from the tone that you were being critical of his review. My fault - I didn't get the sarcasm. Can't say that I don't use a lot of it myself, just didn't get it this time.

No problem.
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Old 05-21-2011, 04:46 AM
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Joe, thanks for the informative post. I have a questions about the VIZ:

"The vertical impact surface (VIZ) has little to no relief which over time will allow the barrel legs to strike low in the frame which can cause the legs to break off the barrel."

I am trying to visualize this, do you happen to have a picture or drawing? How much time/number of rounds are we talking? I have not seen a lot of production guns with broken legs(yes, it can/does happen) so how critical is this on the Ruger and should it be addressed?

For your average garden variety shooter, what would you fix before sending a few thousand rounds down range?

Oh, and one more thing, yours may differ, but my grip medallions are attached with some type of rivit with what looks like rtv to keep them from turning. I discovered this because my left grip medallion is crooked and I tried every allen I had, so I will have to contact Ruger.

Last edited by MotorSeven; 05-21-2011 at 07:10 AM.
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Old 05-21-2011, 06:32 AM
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I am trying to visualize this, do you happen to have a picture or drawing?
More than you want to know about the VIS is available in this thread.
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