I’m Larry Vickers, the host of TAC TV. I’m a trained firearms professional with years of experience in the industry.
On each and every episode we have safety measures in place so if you’re not properly trained, do not attempt to duplicate anything you see on this show, ever.
Finally we have arrived at the centennial episode for this classic American handgun.
Now, I’ve got long history with this pistol built from my military service and my gunsmithing time using it.
My good friend, Ken Hackathorn and I are going to take you through some classic drills on the range for the 1911. And we’re also going to invite you to a special centennial class in Marrietta Ohio hosted by Wilson Combat.
Stand by because the episode you’ve been waiting a hundred years for is coming at you.
We’re here at Fort Harmar rifle club outside of Marrietta, Ohio, close to my good buddy Ken Hackathorn’s home.
We’re having 1911 centennial celebration here.
Wilson Combat is not only sponsoring the show, but they’ve also sponsored the event.
So, we have about 40 shooters here and we’re taking through some classic 1911 drills like and what not.
And revisit some of the things that made the custom 1911 great.
Ken Hackathorn: One of the things we’re trying to do today is this is kind of a celebration of the 1911 pistol.
It’s been around for century, you know. This year everybody’s making a big deal about it.
It’s one of the few tools I can think of that’s been in use for a century.
Have there been other guns that have come along that probably do the job as well or maybe even better?
Yeah, but it’s still in use.
It’s used all over the world. Lots of people use it for self defense. It’s used in competitive shooting arena a great deal.
We’re taking a bunch of like-minded people to put them together here for a weekend of what we actually call ‘entertrainment’.
It’s some training, but it’s also somewhat entertaining. The objective is for everybody to get together, shoot the 1911, understand a lot of the techniques. And the drills that we do are based upon stuff that was developed over the years for the 1911.
I’ll tell you, no matter whether you’re shooting a Glock or Beretta or many other handguns on the market today, the techniques or the skills that we now use with all different weapons were all basically formulated originally around the 1911.
Tim Karcher: Bought my first 1911 25 years ago. And shot it quite a bit initially and then like a lot of us my hobbies kind of went into watching my kids do their hobbies.
Kind of got out of shooting. I’ve just recently kind of gotten back into it.
For me it’s really re-immersing into the 1911 world. I’ve shot a Beretta quite a bit in the military. But, a Beretta is not a 1911.
Now, first off it’s not a gun for an amateur. You have to be a dedicated shooter and want to learn the platform because there are some new answers to keep it running.
Tim: It’s a lot less forgiving than some of the wonder pistols out there today. It’s got to be taken care of. It’s got to be fed the right ammunition. But, the fact of the matter is when it’s used properly and in the hands of a trained professional it’s a deadly weapon.
You’ve a very durable handgun. I know people like my buddy, Ken and what not who have slides and frames on 1911s with 10s or thousands of rounds that would have worn out in most pistols.
So, its durability is legendary.
Shoot-ability is famous, if anything, most of the any other handguns mainly because of the trigger. It has excellent ergonomics in terms of slide release, magazine release, thumb safety and what not. But, the trigger can be refined to perfection and it actually becomes a crutch and a course in respect it will expose you.
Knowledge of adaptability to combat which has obviously served the net role for many years. Some of the most famous incidents with the 1911 go back to world war I or even world war II.
But, the fact that you can adapt different shooting disciplines such as bull’s eye, or competition shooting, beaver tails, modifications, customizing to your taste…
Bill Wilson: You know, we offer several different models. People still seem to not realize that they can get it however they want it.
Durability, shoot-ability, and adaptability. It brings those three attributes together better than any other handgun in history.
Now, when we talked about trigger reset yesterday your goal was to reset the trigger back to the slack point during recoil. And all you do yet just relax your trigger finger and the spring tension in the trigger mechanism will kick it right back at the slack point.
One of the things we touched upon is a lot of people don’t dial in on the fact that trigger control is so critical in the 1911.
Ken and I are both going to hit upon that in our own little way and kind of emphasize that and a lot of ways it’s kind of been lost in the shuffle versus the emphasis on sight picture which way it goes way back to Jeff Cooper and what not.
Remember, if you don’t press the trigger straight to the rear, no matter what you do with the sight, your grip or stand, anything else. If you don’t push the trigger straight, or if you snatch or jerk the trigger you will shoot a bad shot.
We worked on that this morning and we built on that. We threw in some other skills. lucky we had Bill Wilson here from Wilson Combat.
Bill: Ken Hack and I go way back.
We’ve been shooting handguns together since the late 70s. Ken was one of the founders of OPSC and also one of the founders of IDPA.
We’ve not only been friendly competitors but very good friends for years and years.
Bill’s a very accomplished pistol shooter and he was one of the top itsy champions back in the day. And he developed the drill called the ‘Bill Drill’.
Bill: phrase of the Bill Drill and now this drill is 7 yards, one target, draw and fire six shots. With good carry equipment, 3 seconds is a real good applied time for that for an experienced shooter.
Today’s basically about recovery. Teaches you how when you fire a shot and gun recoils how with recovering get back on target and fire a quick follow-up shot.
So, the people today were lucky. They got a chance to shoot a legendary skill drill. It’s known all over the world, the Bill drill. And Bill Wilson’s the guy that basically talked us to it.
I’m Larry Vickers, the host of TAC TV. We’re proud to have Wilson Combat on board as the sponsor. Since 1977, they’ve been getting the job done when it comes to the 1911.
Bill Wilson has stayed on top producing one of the best guns for the money anywhere in the world.
It’s time for me to give you a few pointers using my Wilson Combat 1911.
Now, this is exclusive online content only available to viewers on TAC-TV.com.
Alright, first thing you need to do is break the gun down. Make sure there’s no magazine in it, visually inspect the chamber, and now I’m going to disassemble it.
One of the first things we’re going to do here is check headspace. I’m going to show you how to do this. There’s a variety of ways to do it, but I’m going to show you one of the easiest.
You take a live round, put it in your barrel and it should be flush or slightly below the length of the barrel hood.
Now, another thing you can do is chamber check your ammunition. Let’s say, before a big match or you take a class you want to make sure you visually inspect all your ammunition and it drops in and out of the chamber cleanly.
Now remember, once again, I want to drop a round in it should be flush or slightly below the top of your barrel hood. If that’s the case, then you have proper head space.
Now, let’s move on to our extract retention. Here’s a little bench check on extract retention. It’s real simple.
Take a dummy round or live round, you slide it up underneath the extractor just like this. Just like it’s feeding into the chamber. It should hold the live round to the breach face like this.
Now, if it slides in with very little tension, that’s usually a red flag. Or what’s even a bigger red flag if you slide in, it drops right out. That means you have no extract retention.
Now, you follow this up on the range with live fire. But, this is an initial bench check in order to check your extract retention.
That’s test number two.
Check and see if your ejector’s loose. A lot of 1911s have slightly loose ejectors. Frankly, it’s not that big of a deal, because the ejector’s channelized in the slide.
And as a matter of fact, I’ve even seen one years ago that was so loose it would spin but the gun still worked, because in the slide, remember it has not place to go.
But, nevertheless it shouldn’t really be loose. Ideally, it’d be tight. And you take your ejector and your frame to a gunsmith in town, hey you need to properly stake it because it’s coming loose on me.
Now, last but not least we’re going to talk about the plunger tube. And this is a big one.
I’m going to take off my left hand side grip here.
Be right back to you.
Plunger tube, now this is a biggie gang especially if you carry this gun cocked and locked, which is of course the rage and has been since Jeff Cooper came on to the scene in the 1917s and earlier with the 1911.
The plunger tube is this tube on the left hand side of the gun that’s staked on to it and it houses the plunger spring assembly.
The plunger spring assembly does two things. It puts tension on the slide release to keep it from popping up in the middle of a magazine. The other thing it does is it applies tension for the thumb safety so you can click it on and off safe.
Now, here’s the big deal. If this thing comes loose and pops out, the rear of the plunger spring assembly can pop over this safety locking the gun on safe.
This could happen in your holster. Let’s say if you’re a law enforcement officer and what not, you don’t know that it happens. When you bring the gun up, you will not be able to get the gun off safe and on to fire.
This is a really big deal on a 1911.
So, any time you’re cleaning your gun, you need to wiggle this plunger tube and it should be rock solid. If you feel any movement in it at all, you need to go to a gunsmith and have them properly stake it.
It needs to feel as solid as if it’s machined out of the same material as the frame itself.
To review our little bench check here.
Remember, you want to check your headspace. Drop a live round in it. It should be flush or slightly below and should fall out of the chamber easily.
Also, slide it up underneath the extractor for your extractor check. Check and make sure your ejector’s not overly loose. If it is, you need to tighten it and most importantly on a frame make damn sure that the plunger tube stays tight.
Last thing you want to have happen is for it to pop out and lock your weapon on safe when you need it the most.
What we’re doing here right now is we’re going to run a group of shooters through the live fire shoot house.
Really, what we’re trying to do is take people with a 1911 pistol that have been working the last couple of days and learning basically fundamental trigger manipulation and some of the other fundamental skills.
Things like for example,
We’re going to put them in the house and what happens when they get in that environment, even though nobody’s shooting back, we see almost everybody’s stress level goes up.
They basically have targets they got to locate and identify.
And we’ve got shoot or no shoot target scenarios.
What really happens is you’re going to see that most people kind of fall apart a little bit.
Instead of pressing the trigger they start snatching or slapping it. So, the accuracy suffers. You’ll see people who will tell you, oh I can tell how many shots I fired.
When the bullets are flying, nobody can tell me shots they’ve fired. And even in here with nobody shooting back, do you know what’s going to happen?
They’re going to lose track. All of a sudden they’re trying to pull the trigger and the gun’s empty. And they go, crap, I better reload the gun.
Hence, we teach emergency reload.
Here’s the problem. The bad guys are in there. They’re identified by luckily today blue bandanas, white bandanas. White’s good, blue’s bad.
Go in, locate them, and their objective is to shoot them with a minimum of exposure. In other words, if you see a target…
And what most people do is they see a target, they’ll jump into the room. You know, they’ll jump in and they want to shoot at dolls. Stand face to face like they’re on a square range and shoot it out.
When you do that in the real world, you’re going to be caught casually. So, what we want here is to see people to use tactics where they minimize their exposure as we call pie in the corner.
Mainly, when they pie the only exposure enough with their body and their gun to fire the return shots without giving the bad guy a big charge to shoot back at you.
That’s kind of what we’re testing and showing.
So, we tried to take a number of the fundamental skills. We want them to learn shooting a pistol.
Really, shoot house is simply a matter of testing under a little bit of stress because remember, the only thing that matters in the real world is how you function under stress.
When you’re calm, cool, collected, relaxed on the range you’re not learning anything.
When you’re out of your comfort zone, that’s when you find out what you’re really about.
This is kind of a chance to see how people can perform, and particularly how well they’re going to manipulate the 1911 pistol.
Tim: You get have an opportunity to come to a course like this with Larry Vickers and Ken Hackathorn and only a fool pass it up. These are icons in the shooting world, and especially when you go to the 1911.
These are guys who’ve used the 1911 platform, you know, in law enforcement, in military operations, in competition…
You’re a fool if you miss an opportunity like this.
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Okay, let’s go back out to North Carolina where Ken Hackathorn is going to help us breakdown the all time classic 1911 skill drill.
We got a little piece of history for you, TAC TV viewers. I got my bro, Ken Hackathorn and he is going to take you through the real Al presidente.
The drill, both, Ken and I think is a classic 1911 skill drill.
You know, Larry, this drill came from Colonel Jeff Cooper. But, Cooper was down in Guatemalan about 1966, training, what was then the palace guards.
The protection detail for the new presidente.
When he got done, of course, the guy said hey, Mr. Cooper give us a skill. Something to practice. A drill of course of firing.
And accurately said, look you got to practice a lot of things to the pistol. But, like any bureaucrat they wanted one.
Yeah, of course.
So, he basically took this drill and said here is a good one. It encompasses a lot of good skills.
It became known quite by accident as el presidente.
Basically, the key to it is we’re going to shoot the correct original form the way Cooper designed it, which by the way as you know, has been modified and changed a lot.
It’s often called el president but it’s rarely the real thing.
It’s been bastardized dramatically.
And what it is…
Remember, it’s at 10 meters. That’s 33 feet, which is where we’re at here.
The key point is the targets are placed 9 feet or really 3 meters apart edge to edge.
Edge to edge and they’re spread.
That’s a big factor.
It should be fired from concealment or a duty ring.
You start with your back to the target, weapon loaded to capacity.
Now, Cooper’s main thing was of course you know, you turn on the signal, drew, engaged each target with two rounds each, then did what we now call an IPSC reload.
You dump whatever rounds were left in the gun, reload the pistol and reengage two, two, two, two…
Total 12 rounds with a reload in the middle.
The standard that Cooper set back then was, if you shoot the targets clean in 10 seconds or less you’re good.
What I’m going to suggest we do here is for the viewers to get a chance to see what the real original el president looks like when we run you through it.
Let’s see how it shakes out.
You got it brother.
Somebody picked the wrong diner.
One of the questions I get frequently in my classes is how to properly lubricate, and how often to maintain your handgun.
That’s what we’re going to talk about right now with the 1911.
First thing, I got one of my favorite lubes of all time here, Militac.
Also happens to be a TAC TV sponsor.
First thing I do is make sure the weapon’s empty, of course.
Visually inspect the chamber.
Now, I go ahead and run a bead of it around muzzle right here which is going to interfere with the bushing.
Now, at this point I’ll take it, run it down the back of the slide down the rails.
Ease it forward.
Go ahead, put it down here where the hammer’s cocked where it’s going to get down in.
The next thing I’m going to do is, I go ahead and lock it to the rear one and get some down in on the top to dis-connector.
The most important place to lubricate on this weapon and actually the highest friction spot on the weapon is right on top of the barrel hood. That’s why you see these rub marks.
Every time there’s a round fed into the chamber, it pushes the barrel to the inside top of the slide.
That’s why you see those rub marks.
What I do is go and pull slightly out of battery about a quarter inch or so and I take my lube and I lay it across in a bead.
Just like that and it lubricates…
The inside top of the slide where it’s going to rub against the barrel hood.
Now, once again. Lock the slide to the rear, around the outside of the barrel, down the rails, on top of the dis-connector, ease the slide forward, down here where the hammer’s cocked where it interfaces with the sear.
And then of course, on top of the barrel hood.
Now, what I do is I go ahead cycle the gun, dry fire it a number of times.
And then go ahead and wipe off my excess.
What do you don’t want is when your firing in a class, or in a range, this excessive oil flying in your face or affecting your grip.
Now, here’s my theory. Let’s say you go attend a two-day class with somebody like me or another instructor. You want to lubricate your gun properly at the beginning of each class day and then right after lunch.
You don’t need to worry about cleaning the gun until after the class.
Remember, it’s more important to keep these guns lubricated than clean.
Matter of fact, I’ve seen them where you’ve went a thousand rounds or more without cleaning it’s not a problem.
My rule of thumb is field strip the gun, that means take the slide off, barrel out, and leave the frame intact and go ahead and field strip and clean the gun about every 500 rounds.
If you do that, that’s a real good rule of thumb. And if you lubricate it properly, that’ll keep the gun running over a long period of time.
Now, when you do that you want to check and make sure stuff like your sights are tight, your plunger tube’s tight, you’re looking for any unusual wear or anything that really doesn’t look right.
If you see something that doesn’t look cosher take it to your local gunsmith, have him check it out.
But, that’s the way I run my 1911. I’ve done it for many years.
I’ve got a lot of rounds through this handgun.
1911s in particular more than any other handgun by far that I’ve ever shot.
I’ve always used that as a rule of thumb and by and large I’ve had very good luck.
Remember, combine that with good magazines and good ammunition and the gun will keep running for you.
Hey, listen. Out of curiosity, what kind of 1911 gear are you going to use for this…?
I got to remember, this is a gun and gear share.
You got it.
Gun is of course my Wilson super great. One of my newest favorite blasters, my primary training blasters when I do 1911 classes.
Wilson mags, Black Hills 230 grand ball.
Holster is a raving concealment and raving concealment double mag pouch.
Alright, great kit.
Basically, I’m just going to have you start like the other secret service start position.
Right, like so…
Okay, Larry, we’re going to try to hang him on a target.
They have to go.
I’ll try pushing the speed here.
Alright brother here we go.
7.8, that is a pretty good run.
That would have done the job.
7, 8 down in one, got to thank my bro Rob Latham for that.
All those years I shot with him just paid off.
Let’s check them out.
Ken : Most people I know would be happy with this.
Okay, these three real nice.
These are clean.
Same deal here.
Nice three here, one down little bit but still in the A.
We’ll take those babe.
3 in A and one down.
So, that was 7,9,8 down 1.
But, that was a good run by anybody’s standards. I’m real happy with the hits even though I was pushing for speed.
Hey, you know Larry a lot of people don’t realize there are a variety of variations in this.
For example, there’s one another variation the vice presidente where basically on the reload you turn and put one head shot on each.
I like that one, especially when you incorporate it with a slide lock reload.
Six shots, slide lock, reload, one on each head.
The reason being it’s basic human nature is you kind of put the hammer down on the body shots. You have to slow down after the reload and dial in on accuracy to get the head shots.
One of the key things that you and I both realize and agree on is my theory. And the only way I ever use this as a training tool is you shoot through slide lock.
You know, you start with six rounds of guns. Because the only way I’m going to be reloading my gun in the real world…
It’s because we’ve run out of ammo.
I’m out of bullets.
So, you’re never going to dump ammo on the ground if you’ve still got guys standing up potentially returning fires.
Not unless you’re brain dead.
Couple of tips for you.
One, work on faster draw, faster reload, faster target to target. Don’t think you’re going to gain time by pulling the trigger faster that generally doesn’t work well.
But that has turned into bad shots.
So, try to gain your time or save some time in between those and not work on actually pulling the trigger faster.
That’s the mistake most people make.
They think by shooting the gun faster I can do this faster. You know, they can’t.
That’s what don’t get it.
And a little off camera truth there, the 780 drill I had down one is probably the single best el president I’ve ever shot burnon.
By anybody’s standards, I’ll live with that if I never shot this drill again especially since it was on TV.
I’ll go to my grave happy.
That was a great…
All time personal best.
And that’s from a very humble.
There are not many pistols that have more stories surrounding it than the 1911.
Out of them one of the most famous, my buddy Ken Hackathorn has a drill running me through out on the range.
Alright, Ken I understand you and your crew set some up for me down here.
Special drill, you know this is the 100 year anniversary of the 1911.
I picked a little drill for you that is appropriate for this point in time.
Cool brother Ken, I can’t wait to see it.
Kind of set up on a historical incident. October the 8th 1918, Meuse-Argonne Offensive. A young American Corporal by the name of Alvin York was faced with a rather difficult situation.
During the Offensive, his company overran a German position. When their heavy fire from the German machine gun in placement, he and some of his buds circled around…
They suffered a lot of casualties, but he got behind the Germans and in the following action he managed to kill 28 Germans and ended up capturing 132.
He used 03 Springfield and a 1911 pistol just like this one.
This is an original Colt made and delivered to the US army in May of 1918.
He picked them off and one of the things he said back in Tennessee when we was, he shot them from the back to the front so the guys in the front never really knew they were under fire.
Some of the Germans realized he was behind them and what was going on. They turned, six of them charged and came after him.
His rifle went dry and he said in his journal. He drew his 1911 pistol and killed six of them shooting them from back to rear to save his life.
It was a 1911 not a Luger as depicted in the movie.
Gary Cooper and that was movie magic. It was a 1911, 45 caliber Cole pistol.
He took down six of them.
What we’ve got here today, 03 Springfield and there’s old veteran 1911. Put you up in a regular kit. I’m going to give you a trial on this drill.
Now, what exactly have we got here in the steel.
Well, we’ve got 6 steel targets setup as if these are the six Germans attacking you.
You’re going to shoot them from far, close just the way Alvin York did it.
We’re going to make you do it one handed because we’re pretty confident that’s what he did. He was trained. That was the way it was done in that period in time.
You’re going to have 6 targets. You’re going to start with a gun in condition 3 in a holster. You have to draw, load it, and deal.
Remember, I’m going to have you start with a rifle at your shoulder and on this buzzer you’re going to have to try to work the bolt. Of course you know in the spring-load it’ll lock back.
That’s your signal, you’ve got no more bullets in the rifle and you can’t reload rifle. You’re going to bench it, draw your pistol and deal.
Condition three of course.
As it would be carried at that time with 7 rounds in the gun.
Well, I got to do some serious work then.
This is the gun used for this drill, right.
This is typically what I want you to use.
Real 1911 with a little side. Just basically the same kind of gun he would have had to deal with that it.
Remember, they had heavier triggers than we see today.
Very small sides.
Back when they made guns to win wars and save lives, not to make a buck.
Well, if it’s cool with you, I have got a 1911 here that my crew positioned for me that I’ve got from my good buddy Justin Boldini at Cole.
Cole has come out with a 100 anniversary 1911. I’ve left several levels. This is the level 3 gun. It’s kind of similar to black army and personally it’s my favorite.
This is the gun I requested for Justin to send down. As you can see, it’s setup as a pretty accurate rendition between two guns.
We just test fired it the other day, pretty cool gun. If you don’t mind, let’s put the old warhorse out to rest and we’ll run the new anniversary gun.
I think it’s to put it in retirement. We’ll try the new gun.
Let’s see if you can kit it up and get you ready to go.
Then something’s telling me this not a world war one air belt.
Well, the holster’s original, mag pouch everything but the belt unfortunately the original must have shrank because I don’t think you could probably wear it.
Something tells me…
Just a gut feeling, I am a little bit bigger dude than Alvin York was.
Yeah, I think that’s a good clue as we call in police world.
So, let’s go ahead get it ready.
Okay with you, Ken, I’m going to go ahead and keep my Rudy project on. Even though I know Alvin York did not have any in the 1918.
But, he was shooting Dutch men, not steel targets.
Yeah, we’re good.
Original world war I holster.
One thing just isn’t right here Larry.
We’re missing something.
But, I think I got a good way to fix this.
Kind of wondered what that was doing down here.
We’re going to put you in…
Shall we say the spirit of things.
Strap on the dough boy helmet.
Put it on set the chain trap up.
Kind of pull down the front a little bit.
There you go.
That’s the real you Larry.
You know what’s going to happen.
You’re going to start at ready gun.
Rifle right on the target, finger on trigger, and on the beep you’re going to work the bolt, it won’t.
Rifle goes down, draw your pistol and charge it.
Far to near.
That’s the plan.
Master sergeant Vickers. Are you ready to give this a run?
Let’s try it.
Nicely done, master sergeant Vickers.
Not too bad, eh.
I think Corporal Alvin York would have said that was a right decent run.
Quite honest, it’s a lot easier shooting at static steel versus hun charging at you with fixed bayonets.
As you know, as a result of this action Corporal Alvin York was rewarded a Congressional medal of honor and probably the most popular of famous use of a 1911 in a combat environment that resulted in a congressional medal of honor.
He certainly earned it, based on what I’ve read.
Every bit of it.
Again, let’s be realistic. Sides are hard to see, but for a 19 year old they probably had been a little bit crisper
It was very difficult to see, especially down that shadow relaying.
What was my time?
You’re time is going to be in 12.36.
You know, out of curiosity I wonder if we took a modern gun, using both hands and more of a modern shooting technique and tried this again if there’d be much difference.
Now, if I can use a different holster…
And if I can use my Wilson super grade.
Let’s try it.
Let’s give it a shot.
Alright, this time you’re shooting out of a much quicker holster to draw from, state of the art combat pistol, a nice Wilson CQV, and you’re going to use the modern technique.
We’re going to see just how much value we got out of our tax dollars when the US army taught you a little bit about shooting a pistol.
Hopefully, I won’t let you or the viewers of TAC TV down.
How about that?
We’re about to find out.
Same start position.
Remember, we had previous run from the Alvin York drill was 12.36 seconds. Let’s see how this one goes.
Yeah, I’d say better gun, better sides, and better holster.
What can you say?
I know Alvin York would appreciate that.
He would have been proud of that.
What’s your line for that, Larry?
Remember who you’re dealing with.
There you are.
Yeah, I’d say better gun, better sides, and better holster.
What can you say?
I know Alvin York would appreciate that.
He would have been proud…