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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, 08:24 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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  #4  
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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  #5  
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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  #6  
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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  #7  
Old 01-06-2014, 09:49 PM
SKIandSKY SKIandSKY is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackSky View Post
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.

Night sights? Glow in the dark?

If so, I might get those. The "dot the i" types are like what's on my Kahr....I've carried a Kahr since 2003 so it would be familiar.
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  #8  
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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  #9  
Old 02-28-2011, 10:26 PM
francoma francoma is offline
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Newbie..... Just picked one of these up in Dec

Hello... was doing some google review searches for my pro 3" and came across this thread and decided to join. love the thread. I picked mine up on gun broker NIB for a tad over $700 this past Dec.. I actually just sent mine back to S&W (today) after a couple conversations with customer service. Love the package, size weight etc but I had issues with the sights, trigger rattle and thumb safety. Anyone else have issues with any of these? It was shooting way low and to the left and the sights were VISIBLY off. I have 3 Kimbers ( 2 custom shop) and the triggers are very tight, the s&w is like an old chevy puckup. The thumb safety was very hard to engage and seat and disengage. There is now a gouge in the frame where the thumb safety over travel digs in. Any ideas or comments? Also I am looking into the Meprolight nights sights, anyone have experience? I live in MA so it is hard to get a new 3"1911 as nothing is on the approved list. I did find a nib kimber ultra cdp, ma approved, but the dealer wanted $1499 pre tax ...... thought that was robbery.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 7small.jpg (48.9 KB, 186 views)

Last edited by francoma; 03-01-2011 at 07:40 AM. Reason: add pic
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  #10  
Old 01-02-2012, 11:00 PM
dav9900 dav9900 is offline
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Proper installation of recoil spring on S&W ProSeries 1911 .45

I know I seem late regarding questioning of the issue regarding proper installation of the recoil spring on the S&W pro series 1911 45. I just purchased the gun(new) over the week end at Cabellas, reviewed the owners manual and saw that there has been no change in recommended installation procedures. Are you guys still advising 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(contrary to what the owner's manual states? I haven't seen any more discussion regarding the on the forums.
Any further advice would be greatly appreciated'
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  #11  
Old 01-03-2012, 02:25 AM
alejandrino alejandrino is offline
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I have one and best 3" 1911 for carry as far as I am concerned ! Came with 3 extra springs too !
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  #12  
Old 01-23-2012, 11:58 AM
xopher88x xopher88x is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dav9900 View Post
I know I seem late regarding questioning of the issue regarding proper installation of the recoil spring on the S&W pro series 1911 45. I just purchased the gun(new) over the week end at Cabellas, reviewed the owners manual and saw that there has been no change in recommended installation procedures. Are you guys still advising 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(contrary to what the owner's manual states? I haven't seen any more discussion regarding the on the forums.
Any further advice would be greatly appreciated'

Regardless of what the manual says, the open end goes in the plug, (muzzle end) and the closed end goes onto the guide rod. I asked the same question on this forum and was set straight.
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  #13  
Old 01-03-2012, 02:28 AM
alejandrino alejandrino is offline
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Does the Heine slant pro fit easily in the this gun ! I was hoping to have it on mine also !
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  #14  
Old 01-22-2012, 12:32 PM
Stackofhay Stackofhay is offline
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I also picked up this model recently at my LGS and have the following comments:

I bought it used. The previous owner has HUGE hands and based on my inspection of the gun and the magazines, I'm not sure he ever fired the gun. There were no marks on the magazine followers and other than an excessive amount of lube, there were no traces of gunk inside the gun nor marks on the breech.

The trigger is pretty amazing, right out of the box. I've found this to be true on all "Pro" S&W's I've owned.

The lower right side (looking from the rear) corner of the mainspring housing digs into the palm of my shooting hand like crazy - I'll be swapping this part out or doing some remedial filing shortly. I like the idea of a bit of texture on the mainspring housing, but for comfort and carry this one needs to have its corners softened and the checkering dulled a bit.

After 250 rounds of FMJ there are NO marks at all on the feedramp - I guess the combination of Scandium and the frame finish are harder or slicker than I'd guessed.

My mainspring was also installed backwards. I discovered this when I first got the gun (used) and attributed it to the previous owner. I guess he is not to blame!

The accuracy is good once you get used to the recoil. It is a bit snappier than for a full size gun, but I did not buy this for target practice.

I don't mind the sights, but will likely change them at some point. I will likely change to a fiber sight in the front once I get a few more rounds through the gun.

The grip safety is a bit harder to compress than for my other 1911's (or is it that it is shorter and hits my hand in a different place? I'll check this).

I am very happy with the fit and finish - my slide has almost no vertical or horizontal play. The barrel is well fit to the slide. The safety has a nice "snick" both engaging and disengaging.

The grips are ugly but very nice to use. They offer good hand friction, don't seem to grab at clothing and I have felt no real harshness while shooting.

Performance has been flawless - not one FTFeed or FTfire.

I'll post more once I get the mainspring housing situation straightened out.
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  #15  
Old 01-28-2012, 09:43 PM
1911FanBoy 1911FanBoy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stackofhay View Post

I am very happy with the fit and finish - my slide has almost no vertical or horizontal play.
Really? Mine has all sort so slop, from the factory. It even gets better when the safety is engaged.
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  #16  
Old 01-23-2012, 03:45 PM
alienbogey alienbogey is offline
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How is the spring installed on a brand new one straight from the factory?
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  #17  
Old 06-15-2013, 08:34 PM
knucklebuster69 knucklebuster69 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alienbogey View Post
How is the spring installed on a brand new one straight from the factory?
The spring in my Lew Horton 3"pro series was install backwards from the factory. First time I took it to the range, it failed to return to battery after the first ten rounds. I turned the spring around and have fired it only another 40 times so far, but no more problems. I did notice that with the spring in backwards while working the slide, it felt a little sluggish. After turning the spring around, it felt like it should. I have sense cleaned and lubed it, but have not fired it again. I will likely do so soon, and I'll give a report on how things go. Other than that one little glitch, it is an awesome pistol.
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  #18  
Old 02-11-2012, 02:59 PM
Dondjr79 Dondjr79 is offline
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Thanks for the pics and the info! Waiting on mine to come in. Hopfully in the next week or two!!
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  #19  
Old 02-12-2012, 04:36 PM
migunner migunner is offline
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Had mine for several months now. Really like this piistol, no failures of any kind. I changed the grips to Slim wood for comfort. This caused the Mag release to release all by itself while in a Crossbreed Super Tuck holster. This was solved by a standard Colt GI Mag release from Midway. I installed a heavy mag release spring while it was apart. No further issues. I trust this pistol and carry it every day.

[IMG][/IMG]

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  #20  
Old 02-12-2012, 04:56 PM
Smith&Fish Smith&Fish is offline
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Can the guys that are not having any feeding issues take a picture of your feed ramps? I keep having issues and its going back to Smith for the 2nd time... I can see tool marks under the finish on my ramp, curious if that may be the hiccup.
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  #21  
Old 02-12-2012, 05:25 PM
migunner migunner is offline
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Originally Posted by Smith&Fish View Post
Can the guys that are not having any feeding issues take a picture of your feed ramps? I keep having issues and its going back to Smith for the 2nd time... I can see tool marks under the finish on my ramp, curious if that may be the hiccup.
Here is the best I can get using my point and shoot.

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  #22  
Old 03-28-2012, 11:38 PM
Ruzz Ruzz is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smith&Fish View Post
Can the guys that are not having any feeding issues take a picture of your feed ramps? I keep having issues and its going back to Smith for the 2nd time... I can see tool marks under the finish on my ramp, curious if that may be the hiccup.
I dont have nose diving bullets but i am/was having feeding issues
sent to S&W and waiting for a range trip to see the results.

It seems from my internet searching and word of mouth that the recoil springs are indeed installed backwards. Also failures to feed seems to be some what common with out of "HOULTON, ME" As far as I can tell this was some of the earlier pistols. My repair description was a Barrel Mod and Adjusting the Slide to Fit Barrell. A Visual shows some material removed from the slide and a little polishing on the barrel. Basically a slide fit issue.

I hope this helps
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  #23  
Old 03-30-2012, 10:39 PM
Ruzz Ruzz is offline
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400 Rounds later and go to go no more ftf
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  #24  
Old 02-13-2012, 08:34 PM
Smith&Fish Smith&Fish is offline
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Thanks for the pic...I can already see the difference... You polish that yourself or it was like that out of the box?
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  #25  
Old 03-02-2012, 01:55 PM
Jeekay29 Jeekay29 is offline
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I bought a brand new one last November and had chronic intermittent failures to go into battery and/or nose-dive jams. I only shot factory hardball ammo and the failures continued even with brand new Wilson Combat mags. After 600 rounds, I changed the recoil spring (open end toward muzzle) and still had same rate of failures.

Very unhappy.

Returned it to Smith after 800 rounds and got it back two weeks later with repair notes concerning adjustments to the barrel and the barrel-to-slide fit.

Since the repair work, I have put another 400 rounds through it without a single jam of any kind.

Very happy!

Reassuring to know that Smith stands behind their product and will fix whatever needs fixing (and the round-trip shipping via FedEx is pre-paid by Smith).
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