Smith & Wesson 1911 .45 ACP
The SW1911 operates with two functional variations on traditional 1911 design. The first variation is an externally mounted extractor. John Browning himself saw the extractor as the one weak point in the 1911 system and developed the external design to enhance reliability and maintenance. The second difference is in the control of the firing pin via the grip safety. Depress the grip safety and the firing pin is free to move forward. This is very similar to the Swartz system that was adapted for use in the Kimber Type II pistols, but Smith & Wesson has claimed new patents on its variation.
Elsewhere, another difference between Smith & Wesson and many other firearms companies is that Smith & Wesson is a manufacturer and not merely an importer of complete pistols or of parts that they assemble in stateside factories. Industry buzz says that in fact, Smith & Wesson has been manufacturing frames and slides for other companies that produce 1911 pistols.
Now it is Smith & Wessons turn. We received our 1911 just weeks before its official introduction at the 2003 Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show. This new pistol was finished in handsome satin stainless with distinctive gold graphics. Cocking serrations were cut on the front and back of the slide. Novak low-mount three-dot sights were dovetailed into place. Lockup was via a bushing with a full-length guide rod. The grips were a tasteful black rubber. The mainspring housing was also black and cleanly checkered. Other black accents were the beavertail grip safety, the slide release, left-side-only thumb safety and checkered magazine-release button. The hammer is skeletonized with the sides polished, but the interior of its sculpture and the outer surface continues the theme of using a black contrast. Two eight-round magazines were supplied. We measured the single-action trigger to break at exactly 4 pounds.
When we fired this gun over five different range sessions, we were impressed when it delivered five-shot groups of 3.0 inches and under with virtually every scrap of ammunition we could find in our closet. Most groups were in the 2.7-inch range. If the SW1911 is not a top-grade target pistol, then it is among the most consistent shooting pistols we have seen come off an assembly line in some time. This is not an inexpensive pistol nor is it out of the ballpark, either. It is our impression that the design intent of this pistol was for its designers to hear someone someday refer to the SW 1911 pistol as old reliable. We had no failures to feed, extraction issues, or any other problem.