America’s Best .45 Auto


This Hi Standard "Military" is a better fitted and finished gun than the originals with some minor design modifications to improve functionality.


  I am a Colt Model 1911 guy. Over the decades,  in the U.S. Army and after, I owned scores of the pistols and their near relations, in calibers that ranged from  the .22 LR in conversion units to the 9 mm Luger and .38 Super Auto. 

  One Gun Digest article from the 1980s, “Shooting The 1911s Spanish Cousins,” was republished in the 2010 Guns Illustrated annual. It was interesting to look back on myself as I was 30-years ago. Needless to say I have a fondness for pistols of this general style. 

  Of the various mix and match components, I liked the long trigger and wide hammer spur of the 1911 and the arched backstrap of the A1 modification. I always had a problem with hammer pinch on the web of the hand and wanted to (but never got around to) install a beavertail grip safety. The extended slide models always looked “sexy” to me, but I could never justify getting one because of the generally anemic performance of the .45 ACP  that plodded along at 850 fps. 

  I handloaded with a Lyman Tong Tool and soon had also tried the Colt New Service revolver and the rimmed version of the cartridge. This was a big, interesting, revolver; but it could never generate sufficient energy for hunting. 

  I embraced the .44 Remington Magnum cartridge as a useful hunting round and ultimately disposed of all of my .45 ACP guns when I no longer did bulls-eye competition.  The only hunting use that I did with the 1911 was to take small game in Alaska with the ACE  .22 LR conversion unit. 

  The “cocked and locked” carry never appealed to me. With the wide hammer I preferred to carry a round in the chamber with the hammer down and thumb cock the pistol, rotate it in the hand and fire. Although not as split-second fast as “cocked and locked,” this was fast enough for me. The spring-loaded rebounding firing pin kept it away from the primer until it was hit by the hammer and driven forward. 

  When old service pistols were being imported by the barrel from Europe during the 1960s, I shot various Lugers, Randoms, Lathias,  Mausers, Walthers, Stars, Liamas,  and Brownings in 9mm. I would get one, try it out and trade it in on the next. I enjoyed the mechanical complexity and look of the Lugers, but for functionality preferred the 1911 platform pieces and its near relatives. 

  Ultimately the 9mm fell out of favor with me because of the costs of reloading with full-metal-jacket bullets and the superior performance of the .45 ACP. Many still agree with me. Not only are the original 1911s  still desired, but a plethora of new makers have variants of the old war-horse, such as the new 1911 AI pictured above. This pistol is made by a revitalized Hi-Standard,  which has once again re-emerged as a player in America’s gun market. Even more recently, Remington introduced their version of the venerable pistol at the 2010 NRA Annual Convention at Charlotte, NC.

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