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ATI FX45 Thunderbolt Enhanced

While looking over ATI’s new offerings I came upon the new FX45 Thunderbolt Enhanced. This is one 1911 that doesn’t lack good number of included options.

This model is an upgrade to the stainless steel FX45. They gave this one a matte blue finish with adjustable sights, ambi dexterous thumb safety, rail for any light or laser the user wished to use. ATI also added a magwell, which is well done and fits very nicely with the grip.

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As with the previous model the Enhanced has a ported barrel with five ports per side. These ports are well executed and uniform in appearance and size. The trigger has a flat face that is smooth and a bit wider than the trigger body. Of course the trigger is fully adjustable.

One new addition that immediately catches your eye are the new grip panels. These grips are made by Timber Smith and developed through Tapco. Now we’ve all seen grips with large skulls carved into them but these are a bit classier with small skulls carved into the grips. There are also finely detailed background images around the skulls. The grips also help the shooter by adding three strips of a material not unlike a fine grit skateboard tape. These grips come in Rosewood and black. MSRP is $ 869.95. Of course your dealer price will be less.

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Hilton Yam is in my opinion one of the best builders of working 1911’s. Notice I said working. These aren’t competition guns these are built to be working guns for the CCW holder, Police Officer etc. In other words those looking for an ultra reliable piece of gun art meant to save your life. Hilton just released a new video on You Tube which is a video presentation of the printed version on the 10-8 Performance website. Check the 10-8 Performance website for many articles on the 1911 and how to run it right!

This would be a good one to download from You Tube and keep for reference. I use 10-8 sights and other parts for my 1911’s and S&W M&P. I hope you enjoy the video!

Click the picture for a larger view

Hum my Rock Island 38 Super looks a lot like his. I guess so since it has 10-8 sights and Ed Brown grip safety, 10-8 trigger, Tripp Research magazines etc. Yep I did the build:-)

My reviews for GFS have been moved to “The Firearm Blog”

Hello all I wanted to announce I will be writing gun reviews weekly for the online gun shop and accessories dealer Guns for Sale.com. These reviews will be posted from now on at “The Firearm Blog”—link above:-) I will still post on Gunners Journal.
My ethics that apply to the blog will be in place as always so the reviews you read on Guns for Sale.com will be 100% correct and honest to the best of my ability.
Your questions and comments can be posted on their website and I will respond as quickly as possible as has always been the case here. They are good folks and I encourage you to look over the guns they stock at very fair prices.
The first article should be out in the next week or so.

Happy Shooting,
Phil
Gunner777

 

  

I was determined not to like this gun – Colt/Kimber/Springfield snobbery at work, I guess. I went at it with the intention of finding fault. At the same time, I love M1911A1’s, and precious few gun makers are building true M1911A1’s these days. They may look like them on the outside, but inside, they’re polluted with a bunch of lawyer-friendly, California suck-up perversions of the design, like Swartz safety firing pin blocks, external extractors, integrated locking systems and other “answers in search of a question” devices that degrade the trigger and add unnecessary complexity to the design. Personally, I really like the M1911A1 design, which is sometimes referred to as the “Series 70” format (even though “Series 70” and “M1911A1” are really two different pistols). People use “Series 70” to mean 1911’s that don’t have firing pin blocks (or in Kimber parlance, Series 1). (Go here to get a complete description of the Series 70 Colt.) Kimber had taken to adding these “improvements” with an external extractor and a Swartz-type firing pin block, but the Marines rang their bells when they ordered a batch of 1911’s from Kimber, but specified that they should have no firing pin blocks or full length guide rods, and they should have internal extractors – in other words, they should be real M1911’s and not the lawyer friendly crap that has developed recently.  So, even though my Colt/Kimber/Springfield snobbery was blazing bright, there was some serious sympathy for an outfit that is still willing to build a true M1911A1, and RIA (actually Armscor of the Philippines through their subsidiary, Twin Pines) is doing that.

The RIA guns are being sold at extremely attractive prices. The “M1911A1” is selling for about $350-$370 and that price point is generating a lot of interest, especially when guns like the Springfield Mil-Spec are commanding $560 and most Kimber and Colt models are going for $800+.

There are some ways that the RIA M1911A1 is not a true M1911A1. The most obvious is that it has a flat mainspring housing. The G.I. M1911A1 has a curved mainspring housing. Contemporary 1911 shooters seem to prefer the flat mainspring housing which was characteristic of the older M1911 over the curved housing of the WW II era guns. The RIA pistol, like most modern production 1911’s, has a lowered ejection port with the scallop relief to the rear which is a good idea for reliability, but is not characteristic of the G.I. gun. It has a beveled magazine well and a somewhat enlarged thumb safety flange – again, modern modifications that make sense, but which were not found on the G.I. gun. It also has smooth wood grips rather than checkered bakelite. The RIA is like the M1911A1 in that it is parkerized, has the short trigger of the M1911A1, has authentic sights, short guide rod and spring plug, no firing pin block, and a mil-spec trigger of about 5.5-6 lbs.

  
   First Test
It shot really well close. At seven yards I got a ragged hole. At 25 yards I got a pattern the size of a cantaloupe 8″ low at 8 o’clock. (By way of comparison, I shoot a baseball-sized pattern at point of aim at 25 yards with the SA XD 9mm at this same range under similar lighting conditions). It could have been my eyes and those tiny sights in the indoor range. I’m not ready to blame that totally on the gun yet. Probably a bit more testing is in order. I did the “magazine from hell” test (running every weird old magazine in my collection through it for reliability testing) and it only had one problem – a no-name Chinese knock-off magazine failed to lock back on the last round. There were no failures to feed (FTF). I did nothing to prep this gun for the test. I just took it out of the box, wiped the packing oil off of the outside and fired it – no lube, cleaning or “fluff & buff.” The only real problem was that I got some bitchin’ hammer bite. I don’t usually get hammer bite with M1911A1’s but this one sure did. When I got home, there was blood on the hammer flange and beavertail. All in all, it was a pretty decent performance for a $350 pistol. It was better than I expected it to be.

Second Test
Without cleaning it, I took it to a training session. For this session the RIA performed in the second gun role, with the trusty Combat Commander as the primary. I shot about half of the session with it, around 50 rounds or so. Again, the RIA performed flawlessly; again there was bitchin’ hammer bite.

   Third Test
I remembered to grind off the sharp end of the hammer this time, but aside from a bit of wipe off when I took the hammer out of the gun, I still had not cleaned or lubed it. This session was at an indoor range and I ran 100 rounds of Winchester White Box through the gun. Again, it performed without a single bobble or hiccough. That made approximately 250 rounds of hardball through a new gun, without any cleaning or maintenance. All ammo was Winchester “White Box.” I have to admit that I’m warming up to the gun at this point.

Critique
There’s no such thing as a free lunch, and you would expect that certain corners might be cut in order to keep the pistol in the $350 range when most other M1911’s are bringing $800 and up. If you want to find nits to pick, you can. The sights are very authentic narrow blade sights like those used on the G.I. guns. In the dim light of the indoor range, they were hard to pick up. The smooth wood grips strike me as a little chintzy. Like many guns these days, the RIA has a number of MIM (metal injection molding) parts. If you look at the MIM parts with a 10x loupe, you will notice tiny surface imperfections like pits that appear to be the result of not quite enough polishing after the part came out of the mold. Also, a gun billed as an “M1911A1” should have an arched mainspring housing rather than a flat one. There seems to be a collective decision in the 1911 universe that we all prefer flat mainspring housings over arched ones. It really depends on an individual’s hand shape and geometry. Flat MSH’s aren’t perfect for everyone. The slide and frame are castings rather than bar-stock milling. I know for a lot of folks this is a negative, but you have to keep reminding yourself, “$350.” Last, if you look at a real government issue M1911A1, you will notice that the finish is dark gray with green and brownish tints. Like most “mil-spec” 1911 clones, the parkerization on the Rock Island Armory gun is black. Personally I like the black, but it’s not completely authentic.

What’s to Like?
Well, there’s price, price and did I mention price? For the money, I think this gun is an excellent value. The Rock Island Armory M1911A1 would be an excellent “first gun” for someone who wants to try out the M1911 platform without over-committing resources. Based on my testing so far, it has the reliability and accuracy to serve in the personal defense role. It might be able to go places with you where you wouldn’t want to take the “safe queens.” And, by the way, I still haven’t cleaned and lubed it, and it’s still running fine.

Grips
These gorgeous grips are from http://www.gripus.com
Photo courtesy of MCPO a member of m1911 forum

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G10 Grips

September 24, 2007


Mil-Tac 1* Grips on my Springfield Armory Operator

First lets see what G10 is. This is a laminated composite of woven glass fabric, carbon graphite fibers and epoxy resin. In short that’s what G10 is. I guess you would have to be a chemist to know what all that means but in practical terms it means a material that is extremely durable and has an operating temperature of -50F to 180F with a maximum temp of 284F to destruction. That’s tough stuff!
I use these grips on all the 1911’s I own. Most come from MilTac. I also have grips made by VZ(VZ’s are Micarta not G10). There are several other sellers of grips with this material as well as so many knife makers using this material it would be impossible to list them all. Gunner Grips have a golf ball type dimple pattern and are very popular. As I said I usually buy mine from Craig at Mil-Tac. He is very easy to work with as well as being a very patriotic man who donates a great deal to our troops overseas. Any grips on his web store can be ordered with several variations. You can have them with the thumb cut out on the left grip panel to make it easier to reach the mag release. Most all companies offer the G10’s in a traditional shape as well as a flat bottom to allow use of a mag well. Mil-Tac is also licensed with Gary Paul Johnston to apply the 1* symbol on the grip panels. If your not familiar with this it means “one ass to risk” pretty neat idea.
One thing I have noticed is that the VZ grips do get a little dirty whereas the Mil-Tac grips don’t. This is because VZ grips are made of Micarta and not G10. It’s easy to clean these grips whether they are Micarta or G10. All you really need is a stiff bristle toothbrush or nylon gun brush and some dish soap. Water the grips down (once they are removed from the gun) then put on some detergent and scrub until you break up some of the worst surface dirt. Rinse, then do the whole thing over again until you are satisfied with how clean they are. All G10 grips are impervious to any and all solvents. You simply can’t hurt them without a tremendous blow of some sort. I’ve never damaged mine and that includes hitting them on door frames, grinding them on gravel while getting a suspect under control (before I retired) and just general long term use. I know many people who would never use anything but wood grips and I respect that but these are attractive grips and will last a very long time and still look great. Also, for those in the military and law enforcement Mil-Tac offers a law enforcement discount. If you are a Browning Hi Power fan you can also get G10 grips from Mil-Tac for the Hi Power and most clones of the Hi Power.
You can’t go wrong using these grips especially on a working gun! Whether wet or dry they give you an excellent grip surface that is not abrasive at all.

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