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Old 11-12-2011, 12:04 PM
JiminCA JiminCA is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 2,765
The Wilson Essential

I had dinner with few gun guys last night and the topic of Wilsons came up. They know I'm a 1911 nut so I gave them the quick overview. Their basic reaction, although mostly unspoken, was that it was just too expensive for their understanding of and needs from a handgun. They look at me and think well, he's really into it - shoots matches, builds guns, so it makes sense for him. Now these aren't casual guys, serious black gun purchases and builds, really good hunting rifles, etc were all represented at the table. They all have good jobs and high disposable incomes. They all shoot enough to know a thing or two about guns. It's not like they don't respect that someone makes a really nice 1911, it just has too high an entry point for any of them to go for it.

Afterwards I got to thinking. I got into a nice used wilson CBQ about 10 years ago for $1350 delivered or something like that. I think a new CQB then was about $1800. A Baer PII was 1300-1400, I had a Baer Stinger I had bought for 1350 or so new about that time. Browns were similarly priced, I think a Class A custom was right about $2K then. Since then Wilsons have priced upwards disproportionately compared to Baer or Brown. You can get into a PII for under 2K, but of course the entry level CQB is now about a 2.5K proposition.

Wilson's entry level offering has been skewed upward by a number of things. There are good reasons why, and I don't hold Wilson's pricing or product positioning strategy against them. Responding to market pressure, they have moved to more bulletproof parts, probably have costs that rise faster than general inflation, and can charge what the market will bear. this point there isn't a very financially approachable entry point into their line.

I know Wilson has a big backlog and this suggestion probably won't go anywhere, but it would be nice to see an even more basic 1911 available along the lines of the 1996A2. Given that they had the 96 A2 for a while and the KZ, maybe this is a non starter. Still......

My oldest CQB has MIM parts (gasp!) and about 25,000 rounds through it. It gets the job done and I have no hesitation putting it in my holster for the day. In fact it shoots better in my hands than the all-bulletproof newer gun I have. Probably 25K rounds have really settled the gun it. I get it. But not everyone needs all bulletproof and in my mind all the hype about having the absolute best parts, etc., has pushed the offerings into the stratosphere. Wilson has responded to that market demand with the right tailored offerings but I wonder if there is a group of people going unserved.

So, that early CQB would be the inspiration for this entry level gun. Call it the Wilson Essential. Everything you need and nothing you don't.

No checkering, use the value line (MIM) parts, or course reliable and tuned and a good trigger. No options. Just the basic gun parked or black AT, in 45 ACP only. Basic Combat Pyramid sights with a trit dot up front only. Inexpensive grip panels. Might even want to use a plastic Colt type MSH (!!!). Basic and functional.

I bet done right you could hammer 4 or 500 bucks out of cost of a base line CQB or XTAC. Get it down close to $2000. Just under if you can.

So WCR, any chance Wilson might consider such a product? Might not be at the top of the list right now with orders coming out of Wilson's ears. But the "entry point" has gotten so high that some people must be turning away.

I think the 1911 market will cool a bit over the next couple of years and such an offering could become a staple for Wilson.

The obvious drawback to such an offering for Wilson is that it just takes a certain amount of time to build a gun right, and do sales and customer svc, regardless of bells and whistles. There would be a lot less margin in such a gun. So why offer it if you don't have to? Still, I think there's a gap in the offerings that such a gun would fill, and with an entry gun priced right, people will catch the fever and want to upgrade over time.


Last edited by JiminCA; 11-12-2011 at 01:15 PM.
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