1911 Pistol Review With Jerry Miculek Video

Hey guys. The footage you’re about to see is done by a professional. I’ve been doing this for over 25 years. This footage is for entertainment value only. Please do not try this at home.

So you want to shoot fast huh? I’m finally waking up today. A lot of people ask me well how do I get to the next level? Well you get to the next level by being the first one on the range and the last one to leave.

Hi guys. I’m Jerry Miculek, and welcome to this episode of shoot fast. As you can see from in front of me here this episode is going to be on 1911 pistols. If there is one pistol design that’s been copied more than a 1911, I have no idea what it would be. This has to be the most copied and well-designed handgun ever manufactured. So we’re going to kind of go through it. I’ve got some different variations of it. We’ll talk about what makes it such a good platform and some of the differences of all the guns you see here on the table.


They call it the 1911 pistol because the US Army adopted this platform back in 1911 so, what they were looking for is a semi-automatic handgun that would fire under very adverse conditions, and had a large caliber of projectile. So it’s chamber and 45 ACP, which means automatic colt pistol. So, the way it came originally it had seven round magazine and a total of eight round capacity, steel frame. I’ll show you some of the differences of the early production guns.

This is similar to a World War I era 1911 that was manufactured towards the end of the war. Some of the things that they changed was the arched housing. You can still see the spur hammer here. This was some problems that they eventually changed in all the competition guns so you had a short grip thing here, relatively short trigger. It’s a five inch gun, steel, well-made, well-designed. It had a lock breach of course, and the sights were kind of small for what it was. Back then the handgun was considered more of a point-and-shoot and that’s something that you really aimed, so it was a self-defense firearm more than it was the target gun.

So the basic 1911 platform looked very similar to this. An interesting thing that went on in the second war was a lot of the 1911s manufactured during the second war, because it was the wartime production item, a lot of the hardening processes were left out and the only thing actually to hardened on a lot of their second war guns, second era, Second World War II era guns was this little slide stop here on the slide. The rest of the frame and the slide was basically dead soft.

The service life of the gun was between 4,000 and 5,000 rounds, which seems relatively short to a gun enthusiast, but actually for handgun to survive combat and rough use and had been fired 4,000 to 5,000 times is pretty nonexistent for that to happen, so. And also the original 1911 was designed to where all the parts were 100% interchangeable. So if an armor had 20 1911 pistols on the table, he just basically took them all down to every piece and part, threw it in a bucket, washed it and should be able to assemble 20 1911 pistols without any fittings. So they can be interchangeable.

So what that meant to the actual firearm platform was they were relatively loosely fitted. The triggers are relatively hard because the sears and hammers and the triggers all had to interchange in between one another, so they stacked the tolerances to where you can make them 100% interchangeable to where the armor in the field could retrofit them with parts easily and keep them running. So that was one of the main concerns of a combat handgun was the reliability and the ability of the armor to service it in the field.

So but to a gun enthusiast we want to make them better. We want them to shoot easier. We want them to kick less. So some of the evolution of the 1911 would be something that actually occurred here within the last 25, 30 years is the compensator. And really my father-in-law, Jim Clark of Clark Custom Guns, was really the first one to put a barrel weight on a 1911 pistol. And the idea behind the barrel weight was it added lock time to the slide assembly so there’s a lot to breach.

So when you put a weight on the front, the first ones were not ported, so this gun was to fire, it slowed the cycle time of the slide and it gave the shooter the perception of a softer recoil. And basically what it did, it brought the recoil cycle down for a longer period of time so it made it a little bit easier to control rapid fire.

The first compensated or weighted guns were made to shoot bowling pin. Guys were shooting 45 rounds loaded with 250 grain bullets doing 950 feet a second. So, it had a lot of recoil there so they added the weights to the front to keep the muzzle on target. A bowling pin is a relatively small target.

The next evolution of that was to put ports in it and the idea of the porting was to redirect the gas that would normally fire the projectile through the bore and redirect it up to keep the muzzle down. The blast effect would keep the muzzle, plus the weight of the column or the weight on the muzzle here, kept it easily on target. So that’s really the major improvement of the current race gun. So, same trigger, same hammer, same sear.

One thing that’s very noticeable on the race guns, the current guns, they took the grip safety and actually raise it higher. And what they’re trying to do here is get the centerline of the barrel down further in the centerline of the hand. All that does is help control recoil. It also puts better safety slide releases.

What you have to remember about the 1911 platform it’s the same thing if you were a car enthusiast, if you had a 350 Chevrolet short block, the 1911 is a 350 Chevrolet short block of the handguns. There’s probably 10 million parts available that you can retrofit and interchange and modernize and customize. It’s a huge market for 1911 products as far as customization goes and it’s all geared towards high performance.

So this is pretty much a race gun at 9 mil. It’s an STI frame. This is something within the last 25 years that evolved and that is the high capacity 1911. The standard platform when it was issued back in 1911 was centered around magazine and 45 ACP. The race guns like the 9 mil or 38 Super now are 28, 29 round magazines so you can actually tweak this magazine and get 29 rounds in. So a lot of firepower, same basic John Browning patent, just a great design overall, easily customized to suit the needs of the user.

So let’s go on and look at some Smith & Wesson products. This is my early – this is an early Smith & Wesson standard production 1911. What you might notice on this handgun here is the external extractor. This is something that John Browning included in the Browning Hi-Power of 1935. The external extractor is easier to manufacture and it’s also easier to tool. So they found out after the 1911s were in production that the external extractor is actually a product upgrade.

So Smith & Wesson took it into their production technique and started making 1911s. This is a stainless steel version of it. I’ve had it since they first started making 1911. It’s one of my demo guns that I shoot in demos, and I’ve shot a few competitions with it. It has a magwell on it. I put a trigger job on it. Other than that I didn’t throat the barrel or the frame or do anything to it except for the match trigger and match weighted hammer in so it’s been a great gun. It’s really fast.

This is another Smith & Wesson gun. This is a Performance Center, also an external extractor. What they did on these particular guns, and this is something that I said earlier about that the standard 1911 product, it had to be 100% interchangeable between all the guns. These guns are a custom item the frame is hand-fit to the slide. There is minimum tolerance there, just enough tolerance in order for it to work

Also the barrel is fitted through that individual frame and slide. That gives it match great accuracy. The front bushing is also fitted. You need a wrench to disassemble it, whereas the standard guns were made to where the soldier could easily field strip it. So, if you made the front bushing for wrench of course a guy in the field is not going to have bushing wrench. So 100% interchangeability 100% custom fit.

The way they actually make these guns is that the slides are machined and then they hand – they actually hand-fit – the frames are all machined and then the slides are hand-fitted to the frame. So you have just about 100% contact, and their accuracy potential and the life of the accuracy potential of this handgun is greatly enhanced because everything is square and you have a bearing surface to hold the length of the frame here. So it’s really a good high quality match grade 1911. One fitted up like this with the right ammunition should easily shoot 2.5 inches at 50 yards, so you pay for a lot of hand-fitting and you get it on the target, so it’s a great pistol.

Here we have another high-capacity 1911. This is a 6 inch slide. Just give you some ideas of what’s available on this platform, a 6 inch barrel. This is a 9 mil. It’s a Cameron’s Custom Gun, chrome, high-capacity, tricked out. Probably about a pound-and-three-quarter trigger pull.

And that’s another feature of the 1911, which makes it so easily adaptable for target shooting, is the way the trigger is designed and the hammer and the sear with the right pieces and parts I’ve seen trigger jobs go down to 13 ounces that were 100% safe to use. So these guns as they came stocked to a soldier were probably in the seven, eight pound range. That gives you an idea of what total interchangeability versus custom parts are, so that’s what makes this platform so easily adaptable to competition is the straight single action trigger, guys. It’s a, what can I say, the best there is.

This is another Smith & Wesson. This is a 1911 9 millimeter Pro Series. I brought this along to show you that 1911s come in a lot different calibers. This is a 9 mil. This gun easily will shoot 3 inches at 50 yards. It’s another hand-fitted custom Smith & Wesson out-of-the-box. So, and as we look at the evolution here of the 1911, this current Smith & Wesson E-Series and I’m going to show you some features on the E-Series that you might not have seen on other 1911s.

One thing they did they put an external extractor on it also. It’s also little wider than the first-generation Smith & Wesson, but they also tuned the injection port, and that’s something that very different from the early issued combat grade 1911s. You know that the injection – you can see that the injection port here is lowered. It’s actually flared in the front and is tapered on the inside.

So what they’re trying to do here, they used a lot of high speed photography, weight, what the location of the extractor, the angle, how much tension, and how the brass actually left the slide had a lot to do with the actual design and the finish of the slide here on the injection port. So it’s not just a bunch of guys playing around with a dremel too. This is actually a very seriously engineered 1911. And you can also see it has an accessory rail here for tactical lights, and lasers, or what have you, checkering and extended grip safety here. Another feature that’s getting real popular, you don’t – you can miss your grip, and still have the ability to depress the safety, so that’s a product upgrade. Night sights, ambidextrous safety, just about all the bells and whistles that you can expect to find on a custom 1911 is right there on that package.

Okay, we got all the firearms off the table. We’re going to go do a quick overview on some 1911 ammunition types. We’ll start with the original 1911 caliber, which is .45 ACP. What I have here is a box of ball rounds from 1917. It’s actually specified as loaded with 5 grains of Bullseye with a velocity of plus or minus 25 feet a second at an average of 800 feet a second. So, these cartridges were made by the Peters Cartridge Company in Kings Mills, Ohio. So the head stamp is 1917.

What you’ll notice here is it’s a full metal jacket. It’s a silver looking bullet, which means it’s a cupro-nickel jacket, and that was pretty common back in the first war. They used it on that 30 caliber, .30-06 ammo, and also the pistol rounds. This one has a large primer.

Another interesting aspect of the 1911s were actually the first-generation cartridges had a small primer. Then they went over to a large primer. I think that was because there was so much variations in the 1911 pistol that the firing pin wouldn’t actually hit the center of a small primer enough so they went through a larger one.

You’ll also notice as it has a cannula here, and the way they have this brass crimped on the back of the bullet is to keep it from setting back into the case during the feeding cycle. So, this is a 1917 production, 230-grain ACP ball round, pretty interesting piece right there.

Moving on up through the progression of the bullet design, there’s another .45 round. It’s a solid copper round, probably about 165 grains. What they try to do here on a design like this being that its solid copper, no matter what medium it hit it’s pretty much going to retain its weight. The velocity on this is probably about 1100 feet a second, so that’s a solid copper design with a traditional hollow-point.

So moving on through this is a Winchester round. It’s a 230-grain hollow-point, pretty much looks similar in design to the solid copper projectile. Not all in all a bad design.

Moving onto our Gold Dot, this was the plated lead projectile and this has a segmented core, I mean a segmented nose. They basically plate a piece of lead and then punch it out into a hollow-point. The good thing about this design is that the brass, I’m sorry; the copper itself is actually bonded. It’s plated to the lead, so separation rates are very minimal on this design. It’s a design. It has – it meets most of the FBI protocol for cartridge bullet integrity, so not a bad design.

Remington round, another 230-grain. This is the Golden Saber. This particular round has a pre-scored brass jacket with a lead core. The way the jacket is made, it pretty much starts to open up when it hits. So it’s a pretty predictable round. It’s a good all-around cartridge.

This is a Winchester Black Talon or their STS round. It’s pretty famous in its ability to perform well. Matter of fact they works so good they took it off the market and made them strictly a law enforcement round. So that’s the Winchester Black Talon.

Going on to the latest generation of cartridges and what you see here, this is a Hornady round. It’s 185 grain. This is the Flex Tip .45 round, and with the technology that you see here, with the polymer actually in the nose of the projectile it lets it function through a wide range of barrier types. It doesn’t need much fluid at all to get the expansion going. It’s pretty repeatable. It’s not easily clogged by clothing or drywall or blast.

So what you’re looking at here is basically the evolution of the projectile for handgun that makes it very consistent in a broad range of velocities and also impact resistance for barriers and clothing, and it will perform consistently. So that’s probably the most advanced bullet on the market.

And here’s another projectile. This is the Federal Guard Dog, which is basically a full metal jacket expanding round so it needs less hydraulic effect to get going. Interesting thing about the 45, just give you an idea of how many different calibers that I can just jot down out of memory. I’ll give you a quick run through. .45 Super, .460 Rowland, of course, the .45 ACP. .400 Corbon, 40 Smith & Wesson 10 mm, .357SIG, .38 ACP, .38 Super 9×25 Dillon, 9×19,9×21, 9×23, .41 Action Express, .38/.45, 22 Centerfire.

There was one they were necking down, I think they were taking a 10mm on and necking it down to a .22 so that would be a .22 Long Rifle, of course, .38 Special, and also .30 Tokarev. So that’s a long list of cartridges that will function in basically the same platform. That gives you an idea of just how flexible the John Browning design is.

So there you have it. A small short introduction to the 1911, guys. This thing is just been around for over 100 years. These few minutes that I covered with you is just a brief introduction. The only thing more fun than talking about it is actually shooting them.
So, and the way we keep score and what we do here is with a professional grade timer. These things can go down to hundredth of a second. You can set par times on them though. You can review everything you do, and is accurate down to hundredth of a second. So if you’re an aspiring shooter or you’re professional, this is something you have to have in your kit.

So, we’ve got our timer. We’ve got our – we’ve got a bag of good guns. We’ve got a lot of ammunition so we’re going ready to go head out to the range and let’s make them run.

Hey, we finally made it out to the range. I’ve got my Smith & Wesson 1911. It’s pretty much stock except for a trigger job and a magwell. So this is one of their early production guns. The way I see myself as a competitor is I like to see how many pieces of brass I can get in the air at one time.

So I’ve got a 1911. I got six rounds in the magazine. So what am I to try to do is get that first piece of brass out and get the last one going before the first one can hit the ground. So we’re looking at six of brass in the air at one time. So what you’ll want to remember when you’re on the range, guys, figure finger on the trigger, go until you’re to shoot, point toward the target before you charge it. Dropped the slide, pointing down range into a berm, should something happen you’re shooting to the berm and not into the sky, so, it’s very important if you’re a range owner, or if you’re an enthusiast to keep it safe.

So, all right, guys. Let’s go ahead and shoot this thing six times. Let’s go ahead and shoot the target in the middle. See if we can get six brass in the air at one time. Here we go.

That wasn’t too bad. Now guys that wasn’t a bad run right there. Let’s go back and review the string of fire. I’m going to talk in split times, and that’s in hundreds of a second per shot. So the first shot was actually when I started the timer was at .76, and then we had a 14, a 12, a 12, 11 and then another 11. So the total time, 76 from 142 is about .66 of a second from the first to the last shot, so that’s really not a bad run cold. There again single action trigger on a 1911 is make them very suitable. So I think I might be able do a little bit better. So we’re to try another run.

Okay. We’re to try the six rounds again and see if we can go a little bit faster. That first run is going to be hard to beat.

That wasn’t too bad. That wasn’t bad at all. Let’s take a look. 16, 12, 13, 13, 12, 132 total is 66 first shot. Six, that’s run about the same time right there. I’m going to go back through my math again. I think actually screwed up here. 66 first shot and the total time is a 132. So, actually that’s exactly .66 again, so that was two runs, six rounds on target .66 from the first to last shot cold. Maybe the sun is shining for a reason. That’s pretty good. 1911 single action trigger, guys. You can’t beat it.

Okay, guys, I had that same pistol. I’m going to try to make it run a little bit faster, but I’m going to have to cheat a little bit, I’m going to have to use both hands. So I’m going to have to step up to the line, I’ve got some 10 round magazines , and I have a timer here, this Pak timer picks up in a mode called RPM, which is rounds per minute. I can go back and review it and you can compare it to what a fully automatic machine gun might sound like. So, I’ve got 10 round magazines, 1911 pistol, let’s go take a run at it. We’ll shoot the target in the middle. All right. Target in the middle. Here we go.

Well, we hit seven on target, not too bad. Let’s go ahead review that right quick. That was actually 602 rounds per minute out of a 1911 pistol but that was only seven. That was only seven rounds. Let me see if I can put 10 on target. Not a bad group though. Let’s go ahead and see if we can put 10 and see what the RPM mode says. I’ve got really excited as Let’s try that again. The middle with 10 rounds. Here we go.

Well, unless seven shot wonder. That was exactly seven shots again. Let’s go ahead review it. That was, must be lucky today because that was 604 rounds again for that performance. So we seem to be stuck right at that mode. But I can go back and look at the shots splits. We’re actually running the actual time in between shots was averaging about .09, .093, .097. So we’re running pretty quick.

Okay, guys. I seem to be about a seven shot wonder here today. I’m good to try to make all 10 rounds on target. We’re doing about a 602 rounds per minute right now. I want to see if I can do a little bit better than that. Let’s see what we can do here. Let’s see if we can get 10 on target.

No, nope. That one didn’t make it. Let’s try one more one more. One more, here we go. On the clock.

I think I made a few more rounds that time. Let’s see what we did there. Nope, six rounds, 609. I’m staying right around 609 rounds per minute, so that’s about where I’m at today guys.

Target in the middle. Here we go.

I’m good to try something a little bit different. I’ve got two 1911 pistols, and I’ve got 10 round mags in them. So I’m going to try to put 20 shots on target. 1911 left hand, 1911 right hand and see what that looks like. See if we can get 20 rounds on target here. It should be pretty interesting scenario. Here we go.

Wow, what a good way to waste ammo. All right, let’s take a look at it. And it was actually 20 rounds down range, first shot on the .38 and the last shot was 184 so not bad. That’s kind of on target. We ought to try that again.

Just going back through that previous run, our total time was 1.46 of a second from the first to last shot. So that was 20 rounds down range, a little under a second-and-a-half from the first to last shot. It sounded pretty good. So the trigger pulls are good. I got a little bit on the left side of the target so I’m going to try to dress up a little bit. Go ahead and get these guns topped off and see what we can do here. Here we go.

I think that time we nailed every one of them there. So might have been a hair slower. I don’t know what it is today, guys, but the timer doesn’t lie. That was a 146 also, for 20 rounds down range on target. So that’s about where I’m at. It’s not bad for cold. So I’m going to take that and we’re going to move onto something more exciting.

I know what you’re thinking if 10 rounds of good, 27 has to be better, and that’s one thing about the 1911 platform. There’s a thousand variations of it. This is a 9 mm, high-capacity 27 rounds. I’m going to see if I can get all one continuous string of fire and see how long it takes or how short it takes to get these rounds on target. So here we go, guys. Here we go.

Whew. That’s almost like a job right there. That was about $60 worth of ammo. I don’t know if you noticed it, but, so actually guys there it is. That was actually 27 rounds on target and the total time was up 3.71 of a second. And if you break that down, if you divide it by 26 is really what you’re counting is 26 rounds that average .14 of a second per shot for 26 rounds on target. So guys that’s – that will give you an idea of some of the different variations of the 1911. But we’re going to do some multiple target stuff and we’re going to race this same gun.

Okay, what I’m going to do next is pick a split time that I know I can do some transitions on, so this is a transition segments. So I’m going to start on a target in the middle. So what I want to do is just listen for my rate of fire and I’m going to shoot that target in the middle six times. So here we go, target in the middle, six shots. Just pay attention to the splits here. Here we go.

JOkay. Let’s go back and review that right quick. We had a 14, a 15, a 15, a 16, so we’re running about .16, .17 splits. So you say, what’s the big deal? The big deal is now we’re going to make it a lot harder. I’m going to shoot the target on the left twice, the target in the middle, and the target on the right and I’m going to shoot the same splits, .17, .16 across the board. So it should sound like I’m firing on one target. Here we go. Two on the left, two in the middle, two on the right.

I know what you’re thinking. That’s way too easy. So we’re going to make it a little harder. We’re going to run the same splits, target on the left, going to the target on the right, come back to the target on the left. I’ve got twice the distance and I’m going to try to run it in the same time. Here we go.

Well did he get lucky or what? And that’s transition shooting. Okay, guys. Got that 9 mm again, high-capacity magazine, we have a plate rack. We’re going to see how fast we can run them, so let’s go head off the timer here. Shoot these rounds a couple of times. See what it looks like.
That’s what you call looking over the guide. I had a good rack going. I picked up my head up. The perfect way to lose the match is to look at what you’re doing so instead of paying attention. Let’s go ahead and do it again. Keep your head down.

And that’s the difference between keeping your head down and looking over, so not a bad performance. Let’s take a look at the total time, 193 and an 87. So we were running about 21 splits. Matter of fact, I’m going to go over something with you right here. The 21, a 21, a 21, a 22, and 21 so I went to a split that I know I could hit a target at. It happened to be a 21 and I was able to keep those trigger pulls in cycle and had a good rack. So, good day on the range, guys.

Okay, we’re to go ahead and finish up. I’ve got some cans of corn. I’ve got some shave cream. I’ve got my trusty 9 mm, got some good ammunition here. Let’s just go ahead and run them left to right and see what that looks like. Left or right, here we go.
As you can see, guys, that’s just a lot of fun, so a lot of flexibility in the 1911s, a lot of fun. All right, here we go.
You know this is for all you guys that think the 9 mm is not too effective. There is nothing that I want to catch down range, guys, that just gives you a small demonstration of what’s available. Anyway, there it is, guys. A fun day on the range.

So what do you think guys? The old man can shoot a pistol. If you can shoot a revolver, you can easily shoot a pistol. That gives you some idea of just how shootable a 1911 platform is even for someone who doesn’t train with it regular can have a good performance. So there you have it, one of the most copied handguns in the world.

Also, what I would like for you to do is subscribe to miculek.com. The next episode is going to be on the FN FAL which is a full caliber battle rifle. It should be a very exciting episode.