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  #1  
Old 07-06-2020, 10:25 PM
bjportwood bjportwood is offline
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45th birthday gift, Les Baer or Wilson Combat?

So after much thought and approval from my amazing wife, I’ve decided to treat myself to a semi custom 1911 this year for my 45th birthday. I was thinking of waiting for a promotion before I got a new 1911, but the way my a Department is, it could be a few years before that happens.
My department allows us to carry what we want and I’m currently carrying my TLE II which has served me well and I’m confident in.
I’m really torn between a 5” Les Baer and a 5” Wilson Combat CQB.
I’ve read and heard great things from both sides and can’t make up my mind. I’ve never had the opportunity to handle either one but I’m sure I wouldn’t be disappointed with either one. For sure I’m looking at a 5” blued/armor tuff, No additional frills, (entry level) not a lot of custom work.
Plan is duty use, lots of lead reloads on the weekends. Maintenance isn’t an issue, I tear down and service my duty weapons weekly. As a LEO I’m eligible for a great discount from Wilson, and I’m happy with the recent work they performed on my 870 Police. Price however is a factor, I can’t stomach spending any more than around 2,500.00 on a pistol.
This has me leaning towards the Les Baer. But then again I really want a WC CQB...

Advice, owners, proclaimed experts etc feel free to chime in.
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  #2  
Old 07-06-2020, 11:27 PM
shooter59 shooter59 is offline
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Congratulations on a great way to celebrate.

I’ll answer one part of your question. I have decades of experience with Wilson’s, and I just don’t think you’d be anything other than very happy with one.

Good luck!
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  #3  
Old 07-06-2020, 11:28 PM
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Wilsonedbrown Wilsonedbrown is offline
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Nighthawk...
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  #4  
Old 07-07-2020, 12:07 AM
Colt Carson Colt Carson is online now
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For me that would be a very easy decision, Wilson over Baer any day. In a year would you know the difference in money spent?
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  #5  
Old 07-07-2020, 12:35 AM
MG1912 MG1912 is offline
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Originally Posted by colt carson View Post
wilson over baer any day.
+1911
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  #6  
Old 07-07-2020, 05:21 AM
Bluesdog Bluesdog is offline
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Wilson is more refined in my opinion. Either is awesome gun, enjoy the chase, its part of the fun.
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  #7  
Old 07-07-2020, 05:52 AM
old doc old doc is offline
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I have both and I really can't get enthused about the Wilson. Nothing wrong with the CQB I have but for me, it just doesn't have the soul of some of my other 1911's. When I head for the range, I'm more likely to reach for something else in the safe. I think its their emphasis on front cocking serrations, compacts and 9 mm's. I like the Les Baer except most have crappy sights. Of the semi-customs, my favorites are Ed Brown and Nighthawk. For reasons I can't explain, the Browns are the most accurate in my hands and if you get a stainless version, the finish is beyond compare. My most recent acquisition is a Nighthawk Thunder Ranch. Took it out yesterday for the first time. A beautifully made gun and it ran flawlessly. You might also look at the Colt Series 70 guns on the Nighthawk website. With any of them you are interested in, I would contact George at migunslingers.com if you're buying new. He can save you some money and offers layaway. Good guy to deal with. Bought my Nighthawk through him.
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Old 07-07-2020, 07:16 AM
RodII RodII is offline
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I have both, and if one had to stay and one had to go the Baer would stay. When you say no frills duty weapon with tons of lead reloads you are talking Baer.
My CQB is a nice, accurate gun, but it is not as accurate as my P2. For me accuracy is my number one requirement, all the higher end guns have great build quality.
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Old 07-07-2020, 07:33 AM
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I have never owned a Wilson or a Baer, but I do have a strong opinion. For years 2 other guys and me were 2-3x per week shooting buddies. About 20 years ago each of them bought a new 1911 - one a CQB and one a PII. The one buying the Baer paid extra for the additional accuracy guarantee.

As part of our shooting practice we put the two new guns thru their paces, swapping guns, shooters, different ammo, etc. Our first discovery was that both were equal in the accuracy department in the hands of us three shooters. The second discovery took a little longer to surface.....the warranty. The Wilson never "broke down" and therefore never needed warranty. But, the Baer broke down about every 8-10,000 rounds. And, Mr. Baer was difficult to talk to on the phone (before emailing was common) and very few of the repairs were covered by warranty. And, I guarantee the Baer was very well cared for. Yes, it was shot a lot but not abused in any way.

So based on that small sample and experience, I would choose a CQB over a PII every time.
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Old 07-07-2020, 07:47 AM
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J Scott J Scott is offline
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Get the pistol that you really want on the front end-Wilson's CQB. It's great that Wilson offers you a discount-thank you for serving and protecting. As it's been pointed out, contact George at www.migunlingers.com as well to see if he can hit your price target.
Good luck, happy #45 birthday and thanks again.
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Old 07-07-2020, 08:07 AM
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I have never owned a Wilson. I bought a LB PII w/hard chrome finish and 1 1/2" accuracy package 20 years ago. It still looks and shoots great, no problems. Last year, after looking at the Wilson, Nighthawk,and Ed Brown, I bought an Alchemy Prime Elite through Gunslingers. I'm very impressed with the Alchemy! If I had to do it again, the Alchemy would definitely be my choice.
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Old 07-07-2020, 08:27 AM
pyunker45 pyunker45 is offline
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Why only considering those two?

Why not Alchemy or any others?
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  #13  
Old 07-07-2020, 08:51 AM
Starship Enterpris Starship Enterpris is offline
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I bought a Wilson Combat CQB Elite from George at Gunslingers in 2011. I now own four Wilson Combats, all purchased through George and all set up EXACTLY how I like. Don't like FCS? Delete them. Want fluted chamber or barrel? Add them. The possibilities are endless. I would purchase WC again in a heartbeat.

Les Baer? Have heard many horror stories about their customer service.

Good luck whatever you choose.

Let us know how it comes out.
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Old 07-07-2020, 08:52 AM
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I have both brands. My 5” plain Jane CQB is a great gun. Especially as a duty gun, warranty would be a big concern on my part. My Baer had an extractor break after a couple thousand rounds and during the first year. I sent the slide back in and it was replaced free of charge except for my shipping. I don’t shoot my PII anymore except one hand bullseye in the winter and so round count is not what it used to be. About 20,000 rounds and no further repairs have been needed but I am pretty sure any that were needed would be on my dime.

Wilson will pay for shipping both ways. I have had to send guns back to them and have never paid a penny. Their customer service is the best in the business.

A Wilson will have a standard frame. The Baer will not. Les builds them to his specs. Wider from main spring housing to the front strap for one. Don’t mind it shooting one hand, don’t care so much for it with two hands.

For a duty gun, I would not have a blued gun. Spent way to much time in the rain, snow, mud, etc. The AT finish from Wilson is very good at preventing rust and is very durable but the nice thing about the AT is that it can be easily redone at a reasonable price.

I was never able to carry a 1911 on duty but would have loved to have carried a 5” CQB, Commander or even a Professional. My Stealth would have been great for all the years that I was in the Detective Bureau.

I would bet that once you get a Wilson, a second won’t be far behind.
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Old 07-07-2020, 08:53 AM
mhl6493 mhl6493 is online now
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I have no personal experience with either, but I've read/heard enough about Les Baer's customer service that I'd personally go with Wilson Combat if the choice was between those two.
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  #16  
Old 07-07-2020, 09:49 AM
combat auto combat auto is offline
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Both guns are high quality and shoot very well...Wilson generally cost more and certainly has better customer service...But if you can do most of your own gun work (as you mentioned), and the fact that you are cost "sensitive", the Bear may be the way to go...Best thing would be to try and shoot both before you decide, but if not possible, the little I know about you, I'd "vote" for Bear for you.....In contrast, I have 5 WCs, love them all and no Bears. I always wanted a Bear, but have no desire to do any work on any gun except springs, clean (not including a full-strip :-)), lube. And I am not cost sensitive. So WC fits better for me mainly for these two reasons.
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Last edited by combat auto; 07-07-2020 at 09:59 AM.
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  #17  
Old 07-07-2020, 10:03 AM
borderboss1 borderboss1 is online now
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I've not owned any Baers but have handled a few owned by friends. They're pretty impressive guns. However, the customer service issues noted in other posts have existed for decades. I don't know what it looks like in their shop these days, but 20 years ago Les was heads down working constantly because he had a lot of family using his company for support. He was a one-man band.

Wilson will definitely be different. It's a more refined operation as a company.

That said, there are way too many great pistolsmiths out there to limit yourself to just these two. If this is a once-in-a-really-long-time purchase, do lots of research.
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Old 07-07-2020, 10:14 AM
The War Wagon The War Wagon is offline
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Well since you're 8 years LATE, make it one of each!

THAT'LL learn ya' NOT to skip my birthday next time!
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Old 07-07-2020, 10:26 AM
chrysanthemum chrysanthemum is online now
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For the reasons well-described in preceding posts, I don't think it's a close call.

Unless you're really desirous of a 1911 fitted as tightly as a LB, Wilson is a far better choice IMHO. The only other reason is to go down in the price/cost spectrum (more on that later).

Pay particular attention to RetiredRod's and apipeguy's comments, including the note about non-standard LB frames

The extra cost of the Wilson is part of the old adage that you get what you pay for. Here, and in most matters related to 1911s, you tend to get what you pay for.

If you're determined to avoid the cost of a Wilson, then I think you'd be wise to look at other alternatives, such as the already mentioned Alchemy Custom. Alchemy will build you a good gun, and he'll treat you right. If you're really into a quality/cost trade-off mindset, Dan Wesson builds very good guns for the cost.
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Last edited by chrysanthemum; 07-07-2020 at 10:37 AM.
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Old 07-07-2020, 10:49 AM
combat auto combat auto is offline
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Lets be fair though, although I love all my WC, 4 of 5 of them went back for warranty...I don't know any company which is immune from repairs...In fact, I have found more expensive custom/semi-custom guns have more issues than rack guns.

Granted WC service is in a class with STI, and the likes of Springfield Armory. All top notch. Bear seems to be more of a one man army in contrast...My Infinity which costs more than a wilson is much closer to the Bear Model than WC. Infinity doesn't pay for jack squat as far as warranty, only one year. You even have to send them ammo to test the gun after they modify it. Except they are really easy to get a hold of. If I knew how bad they are, I probably would have not purchased this gun, albeit it outshouts all my WC's, is exquisite in appearance, fit, and design.

But I think another way to look at this is do either company have true-lemons that couldn't be fix? I know of only one in the 10 years I've been paying attention with WC - in a Super Grade some years ago, but inevitable WC made the customer happy (details were not shared)...

It does seem customer service complaints show up on the Bear folder from time to time - mostly of the nature of slow response, but I can't recall ever seeing one that was never resolved (eventually)...I look to others that frequent that folder more to weigh-in on this though.

Bottom-line, both guns will do the same thing in speed and accuracy, I guess the additional cost can be thought of as an insurance policy for soup-to-nuts forever customer service as far as a WC purchase...But still, as I posted above, based on the little I know about the OP concerning both his abilities and constraints, Bear would be my vote.

Given that customer service is the differentiating factor
, I would suggest the OP going into the Bear folder and ask for opinions about how they are treated in this regard...The issue isn't if Bear-CS is as Good as WC-CS (it is not), the issue is if Bear-CS is good enough for the OP. If it is, saving the $$$ may makes sense...You will get a better feel for this issue in that folder vs this one because they are all Bear owners who may have used their CS. Here you are getting a derivative of that information (mostly). It is best to get it first hand.
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Last edited by combat auto; 07-07-2020 at 11:22 AM.
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  #21  
Old 07-07-2020, 11:05 AM
roaniecowpony roaniecowpony is online now
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I have a Wilson Classic. It's a nice gun. It runs. Runs well. But something about the laser etched slide with their company name, the blasted finished stainless frame and black painted slide just leaves me feeling like its just another production gun. Maybe semi-production gun. I'm sure a custom ordered Super Grade with finishes I specified would be more "inspirational".

I hear/read good things about Alchemy guns, but I don't think I can acquire them in CA. I still have a hankering for a Springfield FBI Professional. I see one in CA locally for sale in a store....maybe.
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Old 07-07-2020, 12:48 PM
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Kevin Rohrer Kevin Rohrer is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bjportwood View Post
So after much thought and approval from my amazing wife, Iíve decided to treat myself to a semi custom 1911 this year for my 45th birthday. I was thinking of waiting for a promotion before I got a new 1911, but the way my a Department is, it could be a few years before that happens.
My department allows us to carry what we want and Iím currently carrying my TLE II which has served me well and Iím confident in.
Iím really torn between a 5Ē Les Baer and a 5Ē Wilson Combat CQB.
Iíve read and heard great things from both sides and canít make up my mind. Iíve never had the opportunity to handle either one but Iím sure I wouldnít be disappointed with either one. For sure Iím looking at a 5Ē blued/armor tuff, No additional frills, (entry level) not a lot of custom work.
Plan is duty use, lots of lead reloads on the weekends. Maintenance isnít an issue, I tear down and service my duty weapons weekly. As a LEO Iím eligible for a great discount from Wilson, and Iím happy with the recent work they performed on my 870 Police. Price however is a factor, I canít stomach spending any more than around 2,500.00 on a pistol.
This has me leaning towards the Les Baer. But then again I really want a WC CQB...
I have both.

If price is a consideration, get the Baer in a miracle finish or stainless. Don't get a blued duty gun.
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Old 07-07-2020, 03:07 PM
bjportwood bjportwood is offline
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Well, I was in Field and Stream gun shop today in San Angelo and was able to handle a used WC EDC9 and was blown away by the smoothness and attention to detail on this piece. Granted it was used as new, the asking price was 2,500.00 and not a 5” 45 ACP, but if they are doing this for the EDC line I’m sure the CQB would impress me thoroughly. I’m gonna opt for the 5” WC CQB in AT finish. Thinking of tritium front and U notch black rear. Not sure if I want French walnut grips or standard starburst grips yet.
Nothing against Alchemy or Nighthawk, just really love the Wilsons and Baers. Third pick would be an Alchemy as I’ve read awesome things about their pistols.
I’m gonna put about half down when I get back home and hopefully have it done by September.
If they do as good of a job on my 870 Police rebuild package, I’ll be happy as a pig happy as a pig in chit!
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  #24  
Old 07-07-2020, 03:35 PM
USMM guy USMM guy is online now
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This is the long and the short of it!

Quote:
Originally Posted by bjportwood View Post
But then again I really want a WC CQB...

Advice, owners, proclaimed experts etc feel free to chime in.
Spend the extra money and get what you really want. You will not lose much sleep over it. IMO.
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Old 07-07-2020, 04:20 PM
chrysanthemum chrysanthemum is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bjportwood View Post
Well, I was in Field and Stream gun shop today in San Angelo and was able to handle a used WC EDC9 and was blown away by the smoothness and attention to detail on this piece. Granted it was used as new, the asking price was 2,500.00 and not a 5” 45 ACP, but if they are doing this for the EDC line I’m sure the CQB would impress me thoroughly. I’m gonna opt for the 5” WC CQB in AT finish. Thinking of tritium front and U notch black rear. Not sure if I want French walnut grips or standard starburst grips yet.
Nothing against Alchemy or Nighthawk, just really love the Wilsons and Baers. Third pick would be an Alchemy as I’ve read awesome things about their pistols.
I’m gonna put about half down when I get back home and hopefully have it done by September.
If they do as good of a job on my 870 Police rebuild package, I’ll be happy as a pig happy as a pig in chit!
Excellent decision. And a somewhat similar shopping experience that led me to buy my first (of many) Wilson 1911s and ARs. The gun itself felt so good and exceptionally well made in my hands.

As to the grips I'd get both...one for aesthetics and one for function. As to the G10 Starburst grips, I'd suggest some very thin shims to go between the frame and the grips. G10 is very hard and in time it will cause wear to whatever finish (other than stainless) you select. Aluma Grips is a good source of such shims, think they call them frame savers. Found a link -- the frame savers are kind of buried in their website: https://www.alumagrips.com/products/...ct/accessories
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