When you look over the many quality 1911 handguns available today, the word “best” is difficult to qualify. Let’s just say if Guncrafter isn’t the best, it is certainly one of the best of the best two or three. After all, “best” is subjective and may refer to the handgun that suits your needs and your style the best. Quality isn’t as subjective, but some have a more difficult time recognizing quality.
I am objective concerning new types and models, but I know exactly what I prefer in a handgun. I like a firearm that compliments my skills, and which is both accurate and completely reliable. I appreciate the design of the 1911. I have no place in the safe for sub-standard 1911 handguns made to sell cheaply. After all, a good 1911 can be so much more.
The 1911 was the finest combat handgun in the world when introduced, and remains so, if properly manufactured and fitted. My handguns are not safe queens to be put away and pampered. I fire them often and carry the best examples daily. I have owned Les Baer, Nighthawk, and Wilson Combat firearms, so I have something to gauge high-end performance claims against. Among a very few retailers that stock the Guncrafter is K-Var Corp. (K-Var.com).
Guncrafter: The Gun With No Name
The Guncrafter in question is a CCO version. This is simply a Commander slide with 4.25-inch barrel and an Officer’s Model grip frame. 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. It works at stabilizing 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 crisp and well fitted. The beavertail grip safety is upswept in the modern fashion. This beavertail helps funnel the hand into the grip. Those who 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.
The trigger breaks at a very clean and sharp 3.7 pounds. There is no creep, grit, or backlash. Trigger compression is consistent and smooth, without any trade off. The barrel bushing is tight, very tight. 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 Guncrafter rear sight is designed to allow racking the slide by snagging the flat of the slide, if needed. 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. The Heinie Ledge sights allow precision fire to at least 25 yards, and a good shot will not be hopeless at 100 yards. These sights feature 8 ball-type tritium inserts with the rear sight lined up beneath the front sight. The sights are very fast in rapid combat shooting and offer a 24-hour combat ability as they are self-luminous.
When hefting the pistol in the hand, the checkered grips offer a good balance of adhesion and abrasion. The slide rolls smoothly over the locking lugs. The barrel is a tight three-point fit in the classic sense. The muzzle is beautifully crowned. The feed ramp surfaces feature the requisite 1/32-inch gap between the halves of the feed ramp that ensures feed reliability. The barrel is properly fitted with a good tight fit in the locking lugs.
The slide glides over the locking lugs smoothly without chatter. This type of fit makes for a consistent return to battery with every shot. With a precision fit, eccentric wear is practically eliminated resulting in much longer life for the moving parts. The Guncrafter isn’t for everyone. It represents a considerable outlay in cash or credit. The greater investment is in the time spent master this piece. If you do not master it, then the cash outlay is thrown in the wind in my opinion.
On the Firing Line
I have fired a considerable quantity of ammunition in the pistol with good results. The SIG Sauer Elite .45 ACP 230-grain FMJ is a good training cartridge, accurate, and clean burning. I find no fault with .45 hardball for most defense uses. Despite a modern trend to revisionist history, and ‘it is all good’ philosophy, the .45 ACP offers superior wound potential and is proven in interpersonal battle. Just the same, it is wise to take advantage of reliable modern expanding bullet technology.
I have used the SIG Sauer Elite 185-, 200- and 230-grain JHP. The 230-grain offers a balance of expansion and penetration that I am comfortable with. The 200-grain load, however, performs about as well with the advantage of greater accuracy potential in this gun and features lighter recoil.
The 185-grain load is fine and offers light recoil. I split the difference and deploy the 200-grain load. The V-Crown hollow point is a good design that expands reliably in testing. This ammunition is a good choice for personal defense and offers a lot for the price. The all-steel CCO is surprisingly controllable. Get a good firing grip, bring the sights to the eyes, press the trigger, and you have a hit. The CCO doesn’t give much up to the Commander .45. As for absolute accuracy, the pistol will cut a two-inch group at 25 yards with quality ammunition, sometimes less. This is a quality handgun that will save your life and offers considerable price of ownership.
Carrying the Guncrafter CCO
For carry during the winter months, a shoulder holster is a good choice. The shoulder holster keeps the weight of the handgun off the belt and allows carrying the handgun and spare magazines on a single harness. When seated or driving, the handgun is accessible.
A cheaply made shoulder holster is a chafing nuisance that is difficult to adjust. The Nightingale Sandpiper is well fitted with excellent adjustment. I have carried the CCO often in this remarkable holster. The fit and finish are excellent, and the draw is sharp. The Sandpiper holds two magazines under the offside to offset the weight of the handgun. There is also a stabilizing strap that runs around the wearer’s back. This is a great feature to stabilize the handgun and shoulder holster properly.
Ammunition firing results – fired from a solid benchrest firing position at 25 yards—average of three five shot groups.
|SIG Sauer Elite 230-grain FMJ||2.7 inches|
|SIG Sauer Elite 185-grain V-Crown||2.0 inches|
|SIG Sauer Elite 200-grain V-Crown||1.6 inches|
|SIG Sauer Elite 230-grain V-Crown||1.9 inches|
Do you own of have you fired a Guncrafter 1911? What is your favorite custom 1911 or other handgun? What’s your experience with SIG’s V-Crown ammunition? Share your opinions and reviews in the comment section.
Sign up for K-Var’s weekly newsletter and discounts here.