What’s going on, guys? Ken here, finally getting around to do a video. I’ve been wanting to for a while. I wanted to talk about this pistol you’re seeing here. This is a Thunder Ranch Special from Les Baer. I really haven’t seen a lot of videos about this particular gun on YouTube. There’s some shooting videos out there, which are cool, but I really wanted to give you some close-ups and some details and show it off a little bit.
Let’s get into it. First of all, why did I pick this thing up? This isn’t my first firearm, although, it’s probably my favorite pistol in my collection right now I’d say. It’s not my first 1911 pistol either. I think this is my third. I kind of want to see what the custom spectrum 1911s had to offer. I looked at offerings from Les Baer, as well as Nighthawk, Ed Brown and, of course, Wilson. I just wanted to pick something up and see what that level of fit and finish is all about.
For me, being a knife guy, I own a Sebenza. I can open packages all day with the Spyderco and get the job done. It’s a tool, right? There’s something to be said for pride of ownership, for me anyways. That was one reason, and I wanted to have something that is an heirloom quality firearm that could put tens of thousands of rounds through and pass down to my kid someday and have him be excited to get it. God only knows, he might be more excited to get my Glock 19 years from now. Time will tell.
My first impressions of this when I got it are kind of interesting. You’ll hear some talk about the no-frills tactical cardboard box that this comes in. It is kind of funny. It shows up. I actually had this shipped from Crazy John over at 1911 Heaven. He’s a really cool dude by the way. I’d recommend doing business with that guy. I’d definitely buy from him again. He’s a neat guy. He’s into guns. I think right now he sells Les Baer’s, as well as Ed Brown’s. He owns Proload, which reloads ammo. He’s big time into hot rods. He’s a talker. He’s a great guy. He’ll talk your ear off about guns, hot rods and all that cool shit. John’s a cool dude.
I had it shipped from him to my local FFL. It shows up in this plain Jane cardboard box. With Nighthawk, you’re getting this cool range bag—I think even with Wilson. It’s just a cardboard box. You open it up and there’s just this gun drenched in oil. I think it’s probably CLP. It’s just covered in a plastic bag, just all business and no frills. I’m sure that’s a way for them to cut cost. It’s kind of funny. It’s okay by me. I could care less. They do give you a Les Baer patch. There’s a nice little certificate that’s signed by the gunsmiths over at Les Baer. There’s some other literature and whatnot.
How’s my first impression? I did read a lot on the forums about the Thunder Ranch Special not being as dehorned as well as some of the other 1911s. I’ll just take a closer look. This has been safety checked too. For me, are the edges sharp? I don’t think so. Is it as blended as my buddy’s Kimber CDP? No, that thing has got that Carry Melt treatment. The edges are very much rounded off. I don’t have any complaints. I don’t think it’s got really any crazy rough corners.
What else? A lot of guys talk about the lock-up with this pistol. I’ve even heard guys on the forums talking about how they struggled to get the slide to rack. I don’t see it. Is it the tightest 1911 I’ve ever put my hands on? Yes, it was. Out of the box, it’s extremely tight. As far as racking the slide, no issues at all. The bluing really impressed me. It’s got, as you can see, kind of a matte finish on the top of the slide—these polished flats. I don’t know if my light is good enough to pick it up. I’ve probably got fingerprints all over this. It’s a gorgeous job on the bluing. I hear it’s not the greatest for wear, but my take is that this thing will wear like a pair of blue jeans and just pick up honest wear marks and some character along the way. That’s the way I see that.
It did come with three magazines. So, we have those. They are seven-rounders. Of course, you’ve got the witness holes. I number my mags. I’ve read that they’re not the greatest. I’ve used the heck out of them and haven’t had an issue with these magazines whatsoever. In fact, I haven’t had a malfunction with this gun that was not ammo related. During the break-in, I ran some reloads through it and a couple of rounds that were out of spec that it hung up on. It’s not a big deal. It’s not the gun’s fault.
It does not come with those grips. I did some VZs on it. I’ll show you the stock ones. They’re really gorgeous. I didn’t want to screw them up. They are a little slick for my liking. I’ll try to roll in a picture with the stock grips on it too so you can see what it looks like on the gun. You can see the Thunder Ranch logo there and a nice Slimline Cocobolo. It’s got this checkering, but it’s really so smooth that it doesn’t really provide a lot of traction, but they sure are pretty.
The fit and finish is pretty impeccable. If I can show you, the slide to frame is pretty impressive. Let’s try it this way if I can get it to focus. Here we go. Let me check that out and a little bit of oil there. I cleaned this up after my last range trip, but that’s pretty good I’d say. In fact, you can run your finger over that, and you can’t really differentiate slide to frame. You can’t feel anything. It’s smooth as heck. It’s impressive.
Let’s see if I can show you guys the polish. Let me grab a flashlight here. Sorry, guys. That’ll pick that up. It’s probably not going to focus too well. I’m just trying to show you the polish on the feed ramp, the throated barrel and whatnot. Basically, the fit and finish is amazing. I’ve had other 1911s like I said, and the fit and finish on this has been just top notch and more than what I expected. Shooting impressions—it’s great.
They say it’s about a four-pound trigger. I’d say that’s probably about right. I don’t have a gauge. I’ll show you the reset on this too. You can see there’s just the slightest bit of take-up. Your reset is just incredibly short. Of course, it’s a 1911. The trigger is great. It’s super accurate. It’s more accurate than I can really appreciate.
Les Baer does offer a 1 1/1-inch guarantee. I think it’s almost a $295 option. You can get a 1 1/2-inch guarantee. That’s from a rest at 50 yards. It’s pretty incredible. That’s really impressive. This standard Thunder Ranch Special comes with a 3-inch guarantee. It’s pretty impressive in and of itself. The gun is crazy accurate. One of these days, I need to sit down and shoot it off a rest and see what exactly it can do.
What else can I tell you? I think I’m going to try to roll in some range footage so you can see how it performs. Of course, you guys who are checking out the video, let me know if you’ve got any questions on this. If you have any Les Baer products, let me know what your thoughts are on them—positive or negative. I’d like to hear from you. Take it easy, guys.
What’s up? We’re at the range. I brought the Les Baer out. Today, I’ve got it in this Galco outside-the-waistband holster. I’m going to send a few rounds down range and see how it performs.