The 1911 Colt in .45 ACP has always been among my favorite semiautomatic pistols. Being of an older generation, I was issued one as an officer, but actually carried my own 1911 while on duty. This was in keeping with the “traditions of the service” where for hundreds of years officers had carried their own sidearms, but this practice did get me into some mild trouble on occasion. Nonetheless, I was very comfortable shooting my gun and did.
Although I now almost exclusively use and hunt with muzzleloading firearms, including handguns, I have a soft spot in my heart for the 1911. Occasionally I will see some new variants on this platform that I think are particularly useful. Two such pistols appeared at the 2012 Shot Show. The first was a left-handed version of the .45 1911 Colt made by Cabot. As designer Rob Bianke explained, this pistol is a true left-handed design with everything switched to the other side of the frame – not just the safety, as has sometimes been done in the past.
Cabot’s pistols are meticulously machined to tiny tolerances, with just enough play to provide for reliable function. These guns are expensive and sell for up to $6,000 for target-grade guns. This is pricy, but the guns sell as fast as the company can put make them. Despite the rise in popularity of more modern designs like the Glock, the old Colt still has a loyal following, as witnessed by increasing numbers of them being made by companies like High Standard, Ithaca and even Remington, to name a few. To find out more about Cabot’s pistols go to: www.cabotgun.com.
One of the most enjoyable interviews that I had at the show was with Dan Coonan of Coonan, Inc. Dan designed a 1911 frame gun that would shoot the .357 Magnum Revolver cartridge back in the 1980s and has been progressively improving his guns ever since. Rather than being an exact copy of the Colt 1911, he incorporated some design features of the later Browning Hi-Power, such as a pivoting trigger and linkless barrel, to modernize the gun. In addition the grip was enlarged and a new magazine designed to accommodate the longer, rimmed cartridge.
This design allowed him to lengthen the barrel on some models from 5 to 6-inches to comply with some states’ regulations that require the longer barrel on hunting handguns. Ballistics from Coonan’s pistols are superior to 6-inch revolvers because of the lack of the barrel-cylinder gap. He can also put compensators on these longer-barreled guns which considerably reduces recoil. I addition, he ships each pistol with a spring set for .38-Specials so these loads can be used for plinking and practice.
These are very nicely made guns in a practical caliber that is superior to the .45 ACP as a hunting cartridge. When I was shooting the .45s and .357 Magnum, I handloaded and played around with both. I ultimately went with revolvers and then single shots for their superior ballistics and better functionality with the lead and soft-pointed hunting bullets that were available in the 1970s. From there I progressed, or regressed, to single shot muzzleloading pistols where every shot is a custom load offering unlimited possibilities to fit any game or use. Coonan has a nice website at www.coonaninc.com where you can take a good look at his guns.
My interview with Rob Bianke is on “Deja Vu Vegas. Shot Show 2012. Part I” which was broadcast on WebTalkRadio.net on January 30, 2012 and Dan Coonan’s interview is on Part II Ext. that was aired on February 13. To listen to these shows go to my website www.hoveysmith.com and click on the live link to the show immediately below the banner. This will connect you to my show page where these shows are listed under “archived shows.” Both interviews explain why and how these American-made guns were produced.