Some folks like anything that goes bang! I find firearms of all type immensely interesting. However, when it comes to personal defense, I like to have a firearm that compliments my skills and one that is both accurate and completely reliable.
When reviewing handguns, I must remain objective. Just the same, the 1911 is my favorite handgun. Therefore, I am very interested in developments in the type and in modern versions of the handgun. When writing about the high end 1911, I sometimes channel the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet.
By the same token, since I appreciate the design of the 1911 and appreciate the best examples, I have no place in the safe for the sub-standard 1911 made simply to sell cheaply. After all, a good 1911 can be so much more. The 1911 was the finest combat handgun in the world in 1911—it can be today if not done cheaply.
With the children grown and doing well and retirement near, I am enjoying some exceptional pistols. Les Baer, Nighthawk, and Dan Wesson are among these. Recently, I became interested in a custom grade Commander-length 1911. After some searching and shuffling of assets, I obtained a Guncrafter Commander length pistol with a modern rail.
I had heard of Guncrafter Industries in a very favorable light, but the pistol itself was as elusive as an honest politician. This is a handgun that isn’t going to sell based on price. This is a handgun designed to be the dead level best 1911 possible. They did the work and then they set the
This pistol is from the ‘gun with no name series.’ There are no unnecessary markings. That is all good. Although the Colt Series 70 is among my favorite 1911 handguns, I have never cared for the billboard high slide markings. The Guncrafter Commander is a functional work of art in the sense that a well machined artifact is. The front grip strap is nicely checkered, and the mainspring housing is checkered as well. The checkering is 15 LPI (lines per inch) rather than the usual 20 or 30 LPI.
The checkering works very well and really stabilizes the gun to the hand. The slide lock safety is sensibly extended, it isn’t the unnecessary gas pedal type but offers excellent leverage. The safety is very crisp and well fitted. The beavertail grip safety is upswept in the modern fashion. This beavertail helps funnel the hand into the grip. Some of us that adopt the thumbs forward grip will allow the palm to form a cup and lift off the grip safety, deactivating the trigger. This doesn’t happen with the Guncrafter beavertail grip safety.
A properly fitted 1911 trigger makes the most of the original design’s straight to the rear trigger action. A properly set up 1911 trigger is a wonder to those that accept nothing less. The Guncrafter trigger breaks very clean at 3.5 pounds of compression. The trigger compression is the same with every press of the trigger.
The hammer does not fall when the slide is dropped on an empty chamber and the action is smooth, very smooth. The hammer spring is full power as it should be to assure ignition reliability and control slide velocity. The monolithic frame includes a well finished light rail. The monolithic slide is beautifully machined. The barrel bushing is tight, very tight. A bushing wrench is required for disassembly.
The top of the slide is milled out and grooved in an exceptionally artful longitudinal treatment. The hammer is a skeletonized unit. There is nothing in any part save machined bar stock. No mim or plastic in this handgun. The blend at heel where the slide and frame meet was excellent.
The sights are as important as the trigger action. The Guncrafter is designed to allow racking the slide by the rear sight if need be. Hook it on the gun belt and give it a rack. Since the rear sight is machined from solid bar stock, it isn’t going anywhere.
An all-around pistol sight should be of a design that is easily acquired quickly for rapid combat shooting. The sight should also allow precision fire to at least 25 yards, preferably 50 yards with a quality 1911 handgun. These sights feature the 8 ball-type tritium inserts with the rear sight lined up beneath the front sight. These sights are very fast in rapid combat shooting and offer 24-hour combat ability.
When hefting the pistol in the hand, the Shredder grips offer a good balance of adhesion and abrasion. Rather than a palm swell, these grips swell toward the rear of the grip. This fits most hands better than the palm swell type.
The combination of a checkered mainspring housing, front strap checkering, and excellent grip design make for a handgun that is solid in the hand. The magazine funnel isn’t obtrusive but makes for real speed when executing speed loads. Even if you are simply handling the handgun on the range and in no hurry, the magazine well is an aid in handling. The slide rolls smoothly over the locking lugs. The barrel is a tight 3-point fit in the classic sense. The barrel is beautifully crowned. The barrel features the requisite 1/32-inch gap between the halves of the feed ramp that ensures feed reliability.
I took this pistol with its perfected trigger, exceptional sights, milled slide with smooth finish and match grade barrel fitting to the range for a work out. I lubricated the barrel hood, slide rails and barrel near the muzzle. I loaded the supplied Wilson Combat magazines as well as MecGar magazines.
I began the testing with my own handloads using hard cast Oregon Trail 200-grain SWC bullets and enough Titegroup powder for 890 fps. This isn’t a heavy load but rather a lighter target load. I also had on hand the Fiocchi 230-grain FMJ loading as a hard ball type. I began firing the pistol off hand in slow fire at targets spaced at 5, 7, and 10 yards.
The pistol is very easy to use well. There is no trace of creep or backlash in the trigger. Reset is crisp and short. Sometimes a fast reset is better than a smooth compression. This pistol has both. There were a couple of failures to fully close the slide in the initial firing, SOP with a tightly fitted 1911. They went away within the first 100 rounds of mixed loads.
The steel frame Commander is pleasant to fire with excellent balance. Recoil is modest. The pistol suffered no failures to feed, chamber, fire, or eject after the initial break in. I fired 200 rounds in increasingly fast paced combat drills. The pistol is remarkably easy to hit with, even for a very well turned out 1911. I have built my own 1911 handguns and paid big money for others. I have never owned a superior handgun to this one.
After the initial test run, I took the Guncrafter pistol home, cleaned and lubricated it, and decided to take a number of proven loads to the range for accuracy testing. While the pistol is an excellent combat handgun absolute accuracy is always interesting. After all, the long shot sometimes happens.
The single most accurate loading was the Fiocchi 200-grain XTP. Averaging 951 fps this load burns clean and offers excellent accuracy potential. I settled into a solid firing position with the Bullshooters pistol rest. Firing at a long 20 yards, I put three shots into a single hole and two off the center, for a 1.25-inch group. Average group size for three groups of five shots each with the Fiocchi load was 1.5 inches.
I also fired the Fiocchi 230-grain XTP for an average of 1.8 inches and a 230-grain RNL handload averaged 2.00 inches. Notably the 2nd and 3rd most accurate loads are more than accurate enough for any task and might be the top load in another handgun. While a quality firearm will prefer one load to the other, an accurate load such as the Fiocchi 200-grain XTP will not be a dog in another handgun.
As of this date, I have fired a grand total of 750 cartridges in this exceptional handgun. I have bested my earlier efforts at accuracy slightly by firing from a solid bench rest and also a standing barricade. When all is right in the world and the stars are properly aligned the pistol is a solid 1-inch group accurate handgun at a long 25 yards—often enough to make the piece very interesting to say the least.
The addition of night sights and a light bearing rail to the 1911 design makes the piece a true all around, 24-hour carry piece without equal. The Commander size is ideal for such use. While I am a gun crank and love the 1911, this is a must have gun for those who appreciate the finer things in life. One consideration… lesser guns will never hold your interest in the same way, once you own a Guncrafter.
Have you ever fired a Guncrafter 1911? What was your impression? What is your favorite custom grade handgun? Share your answers in the comment section.
Sign up for K-Var’s weekly newsletter and discounts here.