Wow. What is it with Les Baer 1911s?
First, in our post about the relative quality of 1911s, Glocks and Tauruses (Tauri?), we recounted the story of a Les Baer 1911 Premier II ($1800+ MSRP) that left their factory despite requiring 2 grown men to draw the slide back. Gun Tests magazine explored that incident in detail.
Now, from the reduntantly-named WilyIrishman at DayAtTheRange, we have the story of another Les Baer Premier II, this one falling to pieces in less than 16,000 rounds. “So to review, that’s two broken slide stops, a link pin, a safety, a sear spring and a bushing in less than 16,000 rounds, which is an average of 1 broken part ever 2500 rounds or so.”
The .45acp is a low-pressure round (21,000 psi vs. 35,000 psi for 9mm according to SAAMI). With modern steels, there is no excuse for a gun in the price range of the Premier II breaking (let alone multiple times) while firing a low-pressure round like the .45acp.
So, is it the brand? The model? Or is the design just that trouble-prone?
There’s no such thing as a perfect gun design. Kabooms happen, and not just to .40 Glocks.
Kabooms even happen to 1911′s (which often have an unsupported chamber, something that 1911 fans throw mud at Glock about):
Today, the compact service-caliber pistol is a staple of the gun industry: the Glock 26/27, Ruger LC9, Kel Tec PF9, Sig P290, Kimber Solo, Rohrbaugh, various Kahr models. But that is a recent trend. Until the last few decades, shooters had almost no factory options available to them if they wanted a compact pistol that fired a full-power cartridge.
The trend began on 2 paths: one path represented by the hard work that gunsmiths and manufacturers did to create the chopped-down Officer’s model of 1911, and the other path followed by the work of 2 gunsmiths to heavily modify full-size Smith&Wesson pistols into something smaller and handier. As there is no shortage of people to explore every aspect of the 1911 design, this article will examine that second path.
Finally, a range test of ammo.
We bought a chronograph to test ammo, and also because we will be starting to reload in the near future.
We toured the Nutmeg Sporting Cartridge manufacturing facility in February, and interviewed the owner, Dean Blair. Dean was generous enough to provide us with test ammo in several popular calibers. We eagerly looked forward to our testing session.
Back in my original post about 1911 quality, I looked at full-size 1911s in .45acp. I received questions about Commander & Officer-size 1911s, as well as 1911 performance in other calibers. Well, here is the data.
Same guidelines as last time. I went through every issue of Gun Tests from 1996 to the present, and tracked every 1911 they tested. A gun would be judged as “broken” if it stopped working, shed parts, or physically disintegrated in some way. A gun would be “unreliable” if it had failures to fire, feed, extract or eject that were not attributable to a documented problem with the ammunition. I decided that an obviously defective part like a single bad magazine would not render a gun “unreliable” if the manufacturer’s regular magazines worked when the bad magazine was replaced like-for-like. Note, many of the reviews of 1911s had to use Wilson/McCormick mags for the review guns, regardless of brand of gun. The reliability numbers for 1911s are overly-optimistic, in other words.