The Kimber is now at 1247 rounds fired. Since completing the 500 round break in period that Kimber recommends, it has shot 747 rounds and experienced one failure to extract. Compare this to the first 500 rounds where it experienced 4 different malfunctions. At least in regards to this gun, perhaps the “break in period” isn’t a myth after all.
If you read my previous post discussing the first 50 rounds fired through my Dan Wesson ECO you will know that it malfunctioned 12 times within the first 30 rounds. This only proves that you should qualify any gun you hope to conceal carry or use in defensive of a life.
I hope this does not apply to the readers of Gun Nuts, but some people actually buy a firearm for self-defense, throw it into a cheap nylon holster (separate issue), load it up with some ammo and proceed to carry it, secure in the belief it will act as a talisman and keep them safe.
The simple fact is you must vet any weapon slated for defensive purposes. I actually know of a person that bought a Colt Defender in 45 ACP and shot one mag out of it before carrying it. I was there and his target, which was shot at three yards, looked like he had thrown 45 caliber buckshot at it! Fast forward 18 months and we did our CCW renewal together. Out came the Colt Defender and a malfunction fest and an example of poor marksmanship followed. It was all the ammo’s fault of course. There was no way it was related to a lack of never applying lube to the weapon, not breaking it in or a total lack of fundamentals.
This brings up another point – sight regulation versus your carry load. If you don’t test fire the gun with your chosen carry load, how do you know the sights are even remotely close to point of impact?
Look, as gun nuts (as in people who love guns, not this site) we often lose sight of the fact that many people who buy a weapon do so for protection and are not seeking a new hobby. It is very easy in our rabid enjoyment of the hobby to scare them away as we suggest they should shoot weekly, or lead them to believe they must become some Rambo type person. People seeking only protection do not need to become enveloped in the gun hobby any more than I need to get enveloped in golf. We must temper ourselves with reality and try using some understanding (dare I say empathy) when trying to help them. We need to ask ourselves, “Where they are coming from?”
Then and only then can we begin to offer meaningful suggestions; such as the need to break-in and prove the reliability of their chosen self-defense firearm. The requirements of that break-in and reliability testing are not the scope of this article. That is wholly dependent on the gun type, the gun and ammo manufacturer, and the testing results, as trends develop.
The facts are simple – any gun can malfunction at any time, but it is better to have some confidence of past performance then be completely ignorant to the guns capabilities.
If you know of someone who falls into the “from the box to the concealed holster” camp, you might try to bring them around. Just don’t expect them to become a gun nut.
For the first 50 rounds I decided to use Browning’s Practice/Target ammo in 230 grain. I know that Bill Wilson is on record stating the smaller 1911’s run better with lighter bullets, preferably 185 grain. I plan on trying some of them but these were what I had available.
So how did it do? Not good. Not good at all. Literally every three rounds, for the first 36 rounds, the slide locked back. In the photos to the left you can see where the slide stop just barely caught the slide. I tried using a different grip, even trying strong hand only once. It didn’t make a difference. This thing would simply discharge three rounds then lock the slide back. The problem could be the slide stop, or it could be mag related. I haven’t investigated it, nor do I plan too; at least until I have put a total of 400 rounds through the gun.
In fairness, following the 36 round malfunction fest, the remaining 14 rounds cycled and shot fine. I ran two seven round mag dumps trying to get it to malfunction again. This is obviously not a long-term test scenario, and I would have loved to continue, but there was a serious lightning storm moving in. Here at Gun Nuts we go too great pains to avoid death by lightning strike.
An annoyance that was discovered revolved around the safety. It clicks off and on as a nice 1911 should, but it overhangs the frame ever so slightly. I never noticed it prior to shooting the gun, but once I had some rounds down range the web of my hand started to blister. I have seen this on many other 1911’s and it isn’t the end of the world; but at the same time, this is not a $500 RIA! I expect better when dropping north of $1000 on a pistol! If I keep the gun after the testing than I’ll correct the issue using my best home gunsmith skills. Until then I’ll deal with it with either gloves or raw ignorance.
The final unexpected issue centered on the sights. (see what I did there) I shot at 7, 10 and 15 yards and no matter the distance the sights hit low – really low. It grouped nicely though but at least 3 inches below my point-of-aim. Given my statement above concerning 185 grain ammo being recommended for small 1911’s I find myself hoping DW installed sights regulated to lighter ammo. I am looking for some 185 grain I can test this theory.
As expected the recoil was snappy, but not the end of the world. You definitely want to have a good grip on the gun though.
With a little luck I can run some more ammo through it soon. Will it continue to malfunction? Will it eat my hand? Will it hit POI/POA with 185 grain ammo?
Stay tuned as we find out.
I have a real love/hate relationship with one of the standard tests I do as part of our 1911 tests, and that’s the 100 round challenge. Shooting 100 rounds rapid fire in ~60 seconds isn’t actually that pleasant, but I keep doing it because it keeps revealing interesting data about the guns we test.
This came as quite a shock to me yesterday. Harris Publications, the publisher of gun magazines like Combat Handguns, Guns & Weapons for Law Enforcement, Guns of the Old West, and a considerable volume of annual publications. In the interest of full disclosure, I have written for Harris a considerable amount in the past, and count many of their staff on the firearms publication among my friends.
Earlier this week I started a long-term review of a Dan Wesson ECO, which is a 3.5 inch Officer’s sized 1911. Lest anyone think its reliability will be a gimme, I offer the following video from Rob Pincus. I don’t know Rob, and I don’t agree with everything he writes, but based off my personal experience he is correct.
Yes, the gun in the video is a Kimber, but that is irrelevant. Small 1911’s are generally finicky. In fact, I fully expect the ECO will fail at some point. And if it does, I have a couple of things in my bag of tricks that might help reliability.
Did you see the challenge at the end of the video? I don’t know if Rob is still offering this, but if the ECO kicks ass, maybe I could take him up on the offer – not likely.
In the end, I hope the ECO stuns me with utter reliability, but if it fails, I will not be shocked in any way. It is the nature of the beast.
So… do you have a small 1911 that has been flawless? Let us know. Please include the total cumulative round count, as well as the maximum round count you shot in one session.
And for those that care, I finally got around to buying some ammo so testing will start tomorrow!
Is this video pretty pointless? It sure is. But it’s also fun, and it was actually pretty awesome to get out to the range with my oldest, best friend and do some shooting. I’ve had that rifle for 20 years now, and it is literally the only gun I’d never, ever sell. Your first gun, a gift from your father? It should be special.
Jerry Miculek is a treasure. Don’t ever stop, Jerry.
An article I faith I’ve accepted since I was a little kid was that when you’re teaching someone to shoot, it’s irons first, then optics. The old school logic behind that was that if you can master shooting with iron sights, moving up to a scope is going to be easy mode for you. While I appreciate the John Wayne sentiment that drives such a thought process, we’re also in a golden age of affordable optics. Is it time for that thought process to change?
What the… another 1911 review?
I say why not? We here at Gun Nuts are simply trying to appease the ghost of John Moses Browning. We feel such appeasement is necessary given that most people flock to polymer wonders and shun ole’ slab sides. Simply put, the 1911 can be an excellent projectile launcher and if well-built, it is an exquisite work of art. It can also be a source of endless frustration and malfunction drills if poorly built or improperly maintained.
So it was with your interest in mind – or maybe it was the fact I really liked this pistol and wanted to try it – that we open up the testing on the Dan Wesson ECO. This will be a kick-off review. As I write this, I have yet to actually shoot the gun. This is a quick bench top, initial impressions review. My goal is to track the rounds fired and give updates as the weapon either proves itself or infuriates me.
Now for you heathens that don’t know; Dan Wesson was founded in 1968 by Daniel Wesson, great-grandson of D.B Wesson who co-founded Smith and Wesson. In 2005 the company was bought out by CZ, who also makes quality firearms. But enough history, if you want to know more about Dan Wesson’s history you can look here, or here.
The ECO is an Officer sized 1911, thus it is sporting a 3.5” tapered bull barrel and the requisite shorter grip. Being chambered in 45 ACP the capacity is lacking, but frankly I don’t care. With 7+1 rounds of .455 diameter ballistic goodness I can take on seven parachuting ninja (or is it ninja’s?) and at least one pissed off gopher. Yeah, yeah, I know… no one has ever asked for less ammo in a gunfight. Ironically I own a double stack combat autoloader for those causal jaunts through gangland, or into Syrian held territory.
The ECO has an alloy frame which reduces weight. In the past I have owned some lightweight 1911’s in both Commander and Officer length; and while the recoil wasn’t life-ending it was definitely there. I suspect this will be similar; however, the ECO comes with a flat wire guide rod setup. Rumor mill says it is from Evolution Gun Works. If that is true it is great news as I have read good things about that setup’s duality of increasing reliability while reducing felt recoil. We shall see.
Here are the specs from Dan Wesson.
- Chambering: 45 ACP
- Magazine Capacity: 7
- Frame: Anodized Aluminum
- Grips: G-10
- Barrel Length: 3.5 in
- Weight: 1.56 lbs.
- Overall Length: 7.25 in
- Height: 5 in
- Width: It’s a 1911, it’s thin. Duh!
So what do I love about the weapon?
- It feels good in the hand.
- It is well-balanced.
- The sights are not bad – although I will likely put some orange around the front tritium insert to mimic a Trijicon HD.
- It is well de-horned and the fit and finish are very, very good.
- The safety clicks on and off with confidence.
And what I hate about the weapon so far?
- I guess I could complain that Dan Wesson didn’t add a magwell, but so what? It is not like I will be running this in Single Stack.
- I don’t care for the zebra grips. But that is subjective.
- So what do I really hate about it, at this time? NOTHING!
I really hope this short 1911 proves to be reliable. I should be able to report back in a week or so with some rounds down range. Dan Wesson recommends a break-in period, so I will not be performing the 10-8 test until I have put 400 rounds down range.
To say I want this to succeed is an understatement. Time will tell.