April 2009

Terrific Trio of Custom 45s: Volkmann, Wilson, Les Baer

We acquired three full-size semi-custom guns from three makers and found, naturally, that they were all great. But that doesnít mean our testers didnít choose a winner from this rarefied set.

If you have over two grand to put into a good 45 auto, which one will you get? For that kind of money you can pretty much tell a custom builder what you want and expect to get it, canít you? Not quite, as it turns out. Or can you be satisfied with a fairly standard, if costly, over-the-counter 1911? We decided to take a look at some of the higher-priced 45s to see what gives. The test guns were full-size 1911s in 45 ACP caliber. We obtained a pistol called the Combat Custom ($2895 as tested) from a relatively new maker, Luke Volkmann of Volkmann Custom Inc., who will give you pretty much what you want for options, which we pitted against Wilsonís CQB ($2550) and Les Baerís Premier II Super-Tac ($2280).

Attempting to pick the best one out of all these very fine handguns was anything but easy. They are all excellent, with fine triggers, great accuracy, and many touches that set them apart from the ordinary. In light of the ongoing national surge to buy all kinds of firearms, especially those designed for self defense, you may have a hard time finding one of these better-grade 1911s.

We shot the guns for accuracy and function, and evaluated them for self-defense training and general use. These were all outstanding pistols, yet we found some anomalies that might help you pick and choose. We tested with four types of ammunition, Black Hillsí hardball, Federal 185-grain Hi-Shok JHP, Cor-Bon 230-grain JHP, and with cast-lead, 230-grain round-nose Ultramax. We tested during a severe winter in Idaho, and thus had trouble achieving these gunsí full accuracy potential. Better conditions would have given better results, but the conditions were the same for all guns and thus valid for reference. They are hardly what youíd call lousy. Also, we shot two other known handguns every now and then during these tests to make sure we were not too far off base. Here is what we found.

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