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  #1  
Old 02-07-2011, 07:00 PM
awpk03s awpk03s is offline
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Smith & Wesson SW1911 Pro Series 3" Subcompact Review & Pics

I recently picked up another new 1911. This one is a Smith & Wesson, sku # 178020, which is their Pro Series Sub Compact 3" model in 45ACP.



I've been jonesing for a new dedicated CCW 1911 for some time, ever since I sent my Nighthawk Tactical Carry to get a complete back IonBond treatment. When that pistol comes back (maybe another 4-6 weeks, who knows... it's already been gone 6 weeks) I will still carry it on occasion, but will probably just shoot it more. With that said, I also really miss a lightweight 1911 since I got rid of my DW CCO last year, and so on the hunt I went. I was willing to consider bobtail commander guns, CCO guns, or Officer models. I didn't have the budget for a semi-custom gun this time around, so I tried to keep my search to <$1,100.

I was willing to consider the popular Kimber Ultra CDP II, but in my neck of the woods they go for $1200+Tax, which I thought was a little rich. I have read a lot of good things about Smith and Wesson 1911s, and this model in particular. My local shop had one for $969, so after much deliberation, I picked it up. I know, I know, I could have gotten 2 Rock Islands or like 8 High Points as well, but I'm still satisfied with my decision :supergrin:

Some highlights here:

- Officer's frame made of Scandium/Aluminum alloy, and really helps to keep the weight of the pistol down (26.5 oz).

- The front strap of the frame is vertically serrated, which doesn't really do too much for grip traction, but is better than nothing I guess.

- 3" stainless bull barrel

- Low mount 3 dot sights (I really think Tritium Night Sights are deserved at this price point however).

- Checkered aluminum MSH. I have to add that the checkering is very aggressive and sharp.

- Stainless slide finished in Melonite. Honestly, this was a pretty big selling point for me. I am a big fan of IonBond and Melonite, and am kind of anal about firearm finishes anyway, so in my book this was a big plus.

- External extractor. It's not traditional, but it works. Doesn't bother me.

- Firing Pin Safety, activated by the grip safety, and has no interaction with trigger pull/performance.

- Ergo rubber grips - very nice actually.

- Came with two 7 round ACT mags. Good range mags, but now what I will use for CCW.

Okay, enough reading of the spec sheet, here are some more pictures, and some of my observations about the gun, and some of the changes I made.





- Sights had to go. I added Heinie SlantPro Straight Eight Night Sights before it left the shop.

- Single side safety was easy to snick off, but very mushy to engage. I got a Kimber ambi safety finished in IonBond Diamond Black (trying to color match the Melonite as best I could) from Nighthawk Custom, and had my local smith install that as well. As typical with my experience with these ambi safeties, they fit very well have a definite and positive snick on/off and look nice to boot.

- The MSH was just too much for me. It dug into my side like no tomorrow, so I replaced it with a smooth MSH from VZ Grips.

- I like a flat bottom mag, so I got a Tripp 7 rounder flush fit for CCW.

- The trigger pull feels excellent. However, there is considerable movement in the trigger itself. Sloppiness for a lack of a better term. It is not terribly bothersome to me, but I may remedy it with a new trigger in the long run. I do have to point out however, that I while at the shop I compared the display gun with one from the back, and the one from the back had a HORRIBLE trigger pull, like it was hanging up on something, and you literally had to pull it to disengage. I think there was something wrong with it and that the shop may be looking into getting it fixed or replaced. Naturally, I purchased the display model.

- The grip safety is not blended that terribly well. Also, it requires slightly more effort to engage than my Nighthawks do - I attribute this to the grip activated FPS?

- Slide to frame fit is good, there is just a tiny hint of horizontal movement, but no vertical movement.

- No ramped barrel here. I think because S&W claims the Scandium alloy is strong enough to handle the abuse to the frame. We'll see.

So - bought gun, installed night sights, ambi safety, and then I immediately hit the range. No cleaning, just one drop of FP10 on the barrel hood and slide rails and then just straight shooting. I used the factory ACT mags, as well as Wilson mags. All worked equally well. I fired 50 rounds of Federal 230gr FMJ, 20 rounds of Speer Gold Dot 185gr JHP, 20 rounds of Winchester PDX1 230gr JHP, and 20 rounds of DoubleTap 200gr JHP.
One thing that I immediately noticed about this gun, was the recoil. It was stout. Was it manageable? Yes, it was - but it's a pretty far cry more stout than a 5" steel frame 1911. This will take some getting used to for me in terms of finding the right kind of grip/stance that will work best with the small pistol, and I think contributed to some fatigue earlier on than I would have normally realized.

Accuracy with the first 50 rounds of FMJ was a little all over the map. At 10 yards I had a 5" group. I attribute this mostly to adjusting to the recoil, and perhaps the Federal ammo.
When I switched over to the JHP rounds, I had settled in a bit, and accuracy was MUCH improved to 2 - 2.5" group right in the center of the target.



Ejection was perfect with all rounds and mags.

Feeding was nearly perfect, and I will describe and address that here. On 4 occasions throughout the session, the round chambered, but slide failed to return completely to battery. A slight push on the rear of the slide and it was good to go. It occurred twice with FMJ, twice with JHP, and with both ACT and Wilson mags. Now, before the "OMG what a POS I would never trust that gun ever" comments roll in, I will point out several things that I think had a play here:

- I did not strip and clean the gun prior to firing. My choice, probably should have done it, but I didn't.

- I did not lube nearly as liberally as I typically would.

- Being my first experience with a 3" gun, and adjusting to the recoil therein, could have had a play in this.

- Upon field strip and inspection at home, I discovered the recoil spring was INSTALLED BACKWARDS from the factory. A little research and I discovered this is not a new issue for these guns.

At home, I cleaned, lubed, and also then proceeded to work/rack the bare frame and slide (no spring) with lube/grease while watching TV (probably 1000 times). Reassembled (correctly) and put away.

I need to take it out to the range again soon to try it out again, and also because I want to try the Tripp mag and some Wilson Combat 185gr Barnes bullet ammo. I'm confident that in this second range outing, after my experience with the contributing factors noted above has been fixed, that I shouldn't see any issues. However, if I do, Smith & Wesson's customer service has a great reputation for excellence - but seriously don't think I'll need it here.

As I mentioned in another thread, I was lucky enough to snag a Milt Sparks VM2 in left hand to go along with this gun, and I received that in the mail today. Pretty impressed, and glad I got the "old" design.

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  #2  
Old 02-07-2011, 08:02 PM
Roadhouse Roadhouse is offline
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Thanks

Thanks for posting this, I picked up a Rock Officers Tac. I like it it but my S&W's shoot so well I want one of these. So here I go again.
TB
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  #3  
Old 02-07-2011, 08:15 PM
scdad scdad is offline
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Great Review!

Great review!

I own this pistol and have been very happy with it.

I need to check out the Heinie sights.

Enjoy!
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  #4  
Old 02-07-2011, 08:24 PM
BlackSky BlackSky is offline
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Excellent review, thanks for posting it. I found it very informative.

About the slide not going all the way back into battery... I had a Sig P245 that did the same thing the first time I fired it. When I got it home and took it apart it was in a serious need for lube. I lubed it up good and never once did I have that problem again.
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  #5  
Old 02-07-2011, 08:25 PM
BlackSky BlackSky is offline
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Quote:
I need to check out the Heinie sights.
Heinie straight 8's are awesome. I put them on my carry gun as well. Highly recommend it. This is what my sight picture looks like.

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  #6  
Old 02-07-2011, 11:41 PM
awpk03s awpk03s is offline
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Yeah, I have Heinie sights on all 3 of my 1911s.

I really feel like S&W should have put night sights on these at the factory, but I would have wanted to swap them to Heinie sights anyway to have a familiar sight picture with the rest of my guns.
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  #7  
Old 02-08-2011, 08:53 AM
wbanach1 wbanach1 is offline
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Great Review and I agree nite sites really should be on the gun from S-W but it is a great gun. Good Luck with your new pistol.
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  #8  
Old 02-08-2011, 05:02 PM
1911FanBoy 1911FanBoy is offline
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I just picked mine up today!!! woot!!! Should I clean it first, or go ahead and shoot with factory oil?
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  #9  
Old 02-08-2011, 06:06 PM
awpk03s awpk03s is offline
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Originally Posted by 1911FanBoy View Post
I just picked mine up today!!! woot!!! Should I clean it first, or go ahead and shoot with factory oil?
I'd recommend stripping it and cleaning first, and check to make sure the recoil spring is installed correctly. The open end goes in the plug (muzzle end) and the closed end goes on the guide rod.
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  #10  
Old 02-08-2011, 09:03 PM
BPHORSEGUY BPHORSEGUY is offline
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Great review the only thing I would have done differently is not to use grease
if I was trying to mate the slide and frame together w/ repeated jacking.
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  #11  
Old 02-08-2011, 09:57 PM
williamd williamd is offline
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Nice post. And, nice holster ... I can see one of those in my SA Micros future.
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  #12  
Old 02-10-2011, 11:25 PM
1911FanBoy 1911FanBoy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by awpk03s View Post
I'd recommend stripping it and cleaning first, and check to make sure the recoil spring is installed correctly. The open end goes in the plug (muzzle end) and the closed end goes on the guide rod.
Yup, if you want FTF into battery on the last round.

Slide the recoil spring onto the
guide rod with the open end of
the spring against the flange of
the guide rod
This is right out of S&W's owners manual. Page 32

http://www.smith-wesson.com/wcsstore...l_05-15-10.pdf
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  #13  
Old 02-10-2011, 11:30 PM
awpk03s awpk03s is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1911FanBoy View Post
Yup, if you want FTF into battery on the last round.

Slide the recoil spring onto the
guide rod with the open end of
the spring against the flange of
the guide rod
This is right out of S&W's owners manual. Page 32

http://www.smith-wesson.com/wcsstore...l_05-15-10.pdf
The owner's manual is a misprint. Call S&W... there's been a couple threads here on it already. I was skeptical too, but every other gun I have ever owned has had the closed end on the rod and open end in the plug.
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  #14  
Old 02-11-2011, 08:34 AM
1911FanBoy 1911FanBoy is offline
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My Commander SC gets the open end out. If you turn it around, It starts to "crimp" on the guide rod, and you can feel that night and day racking the slide. i am callning Smith today.
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  #15  
Old 02-11-2011, 09:24 AM
Slevin Slevin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by awpk03s View Post
The owner's manual is a misprint. Call S&W... there's been a couple threads here on it already. I was skeptical too, but every other gun I have ever owned has had the closed end on the rod and open end in the plug.
Learn something every day, I suppose. Although I haven't had an issue with mine installed per the instructions in the manual (backwards), it noticeably chambers the first round smoother installed correctly. Interested to see what difference this makes on the next range trip. I would venture that this is a big enough misprint that some sort of mention should be made on S&W's website (and perhaps a sticky in this sub-forum).

Also, I like the additions you've made and agree completely that a near $1000 gun should come with night sights standard.
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  #16  
Old 02-11-2011, 10:30 AM
DennisE DennisE is offline
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LOL! Okay, I want one! Dennis
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  #17  
Old 02-13-2011, 08:54 PM
awpk03s awpk03s is offline
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To update this thread and pistol report, I took my S&W Pro Series Subcompact to the range again today.

Fired 100 rounds of Remington 230gr FMJ and 20 rounds of Wilson 185gr DPX rounds.
Used Tripp and Wilson magazines.

100% reliable with every shot fired, and accuracy was superb.

This is going to be a sweet carry pistol!
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  #18  
Old 02-14-2011, 02:54 PM
vandaman vandaman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by awpk03s View Post
To update this thread and pistol report, I took my S&W Pro Series Subcompact to the range again today.

Fired 100 rounds of Remington 230gr FMJ and 20 rounds of Wilson 185gr DPX rounds.
Used Tripp and Wilson magazines.

100% reliable with every shot fired, and accuracy was superb.

This is going to be a sweet carry pistol!
I have had great success with this 'lil pistol.....glad to hear your having the same....I've been very impressed by this gun....I consider it to be very reasonably priced for as good as it runs....I agree with you 100% on all the changes you made.....I put alumagrips on mine for carry....still need to put on night sights....I did end up rounding the butt of mine with a file, thanks to anothe member of this board....Great 'lill gun....totally reliable for me....even with some bad *ss 230gr JHP....
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Old 02-14-2011, 03:47 PM
grainfed grainfed is offline
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Nothing like rounding your butt, eh vandaman?......I just finished another S&A magwell round butt job for my friends S&W 3 inch Pro. He continues to have great success with it at the range. No issues with it at all with 300-400 down the tube.........

tw

Last edited by grainfed; 02-14-2011 at 03:51 PM.
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  #20  
Old 02-15-2011, 02:06 PM
vandaman vandaman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grainfed View Post
Nothing like rounding your butt, eh vandaman?......I just finished another S&A magwell round butt job for my friends S&W 3 inch Pro. He continues to have great success with it at the range. No issues with it at all with 300-400 down the tube.........

tw
Yes, Grainfed, nothing like it

Thanks again, I would have never done it without your tooth brush to motivate me
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  #21  
Old 02-15-2011, 02:21 PM
Gary1911A1 Gary1911A1 is offline
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Glad it's working for you. Don't know what S&W recommends, but many recommend you replace the recoil springs in 3" 1911s' every 500 rounds.
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  #22  
Old 02-15-2011, 04:13 PM
Dale Dugas Dale Dugas is offline
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They are beautiful are they not?

Here is mine:

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  #23  
Old 02-15-2011, 05:08 PM
rickit rickit is offline
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been trying to find out what the lenght of the grip is,doesnt list it on the specs on s&w site can anyone tell me if the length of the grip is the same as a kimber ultra carry or closer to the pro carry?
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  #24  
Old 02-15-2011, 05:55 PM
1911FanBoy 1911FanBoy is offline
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should be 3 1/2 inches. Correct me if I am wrong.
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  #25  
Old 02-15-2011, 07:01 PM
grainfed grainfed is offline
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Grips for the Pro are Officers size. Same that would fit the Ultra, New Agent, Defender, etc.............................

tw
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