In previous installments of the review I’ve looked at the actual work done on my Colts; fitting and tuning a spare extractor, doing a functional action job, polishing the sear/hammer engagement surfaces. Very simple things that can be done with a modicum of skill and a steady hand. Today in the final part of the review, I want to look at the class as the sum of its parts.
I learned a lot in this class, which was my goal from the outset. I honestly didn’t know much about the inner workings of a 1911, other than “it’s more complicated than a Glock”. After two days at the 10-8 class, I feel comfortable enough in my skills to perform armorer level tasks on my 1911s to keep them running. That’s important, because I’m pretty hard on guns, and these Colts are going to be shot quite a bit. Even more importantly, I learned how all the parts come together to make the gun go bang; and while it’s definitely more complicated than a Glock, understanding the mechanical interactions that go on inside my 1911 helps me diagnose issues and understand the various things that could be causing the problem.
What I didn’t learn in the class, and what I have no desire really to learn was how to be a 1911 gunsmith. There is quite a difference between a 1911 armorer and a 1911 gunsmith. An armorer is going to be able to perform maintenance tasks – fit replacement parts, repair broken guns – solve issues that crop up in service guns. A gunsmith is going to be able to do all that and more – the scope of which wasn’t covered in the class, and I’m totally fine with that. I don’t want or need to be able to know how to blend a magwell into the frame or that sort of thing; what I need to know is how to keep my guns running. The class definitely covered that.
One of the other things we spent a lot of time talking about was selecting your 1911. The 10-8 guys generally recommend sticking with Springfield and Colt guns, because your percentages of getting a gun that’s correctly made are better with Colt/Springfield. Yes, you can get a good Kimber/Sig/S&W/Rock Island, but your odds are lower. Why risk the odds on a gun when for the same price you can get a Colt/Springfield that’s probably going to work better out of the box.
Which leads me into my final observation for today: 1911s can be just as reliable out of the box as any modern service weapon…but keeping them that way takes more time and effort. The Colt CCGs I have are excellent guns; solid, accurate, and very reliable out of the box. Just like my Glock 35 and Sig M11. But keeping them that way is going to take more of an investment on my part than it will with the Glock 35, which I treat with all the respect and dignity I’d treat a shovel. That’s not to say that 1911s can’t be used hard, because they can.
When I look a Glock, I see a Subaru. It’s reliable and easy to maintain, and will survive some tough environments. A 1911 on the hand is more like a race car. It’s tough, durable and capable of incredible things when set up correctly…but when it breaks, it’s going to take more time and effort to fix than a Suby.