Lightweight .45 ACP Officers Models: Potent Carry Pieces

Small semiautos that match the physical dimensions of two pistols we tested recently—the $1,695 Smith & Wesson 945 and Para-Ordnance's $740 P12-45—are usually referred to as compacts or sub-compact. But when pistols of this size class are miniaturized 1911s, the tag of "Officer's models" is hung on to them, even though they may not exactly fit the mold of the original Colt's Officer's model. In fact, the Smith & Wesson 945 stretches the designation even further by offering a variation on John Browning's action lock up. Still, the physical operation the 945 affords is decidedly 1911 in nature, since it shoots the .45 ACP and can be carried cocked and locked.

Manufacturers are taking a fresh look at the Officer's model for a number of reasons. For one, the 1911 pistol has legions of fans inside both competitive shooting and law-enforcement circles. Also, many military and ex-military personnel recognize the .45 ACP's superiority over the 9mm Parabellum, a cartridge choice often perceived as NATO's intrusion into American affairs. Once the United States government set a capacity limit for civilian handguns, the trend has been toward larger-caliber rounds, even when this means lower total capacity. Traditionally the Officer's model offered a six-round magazine, like the 945's. However, the Para Ordnance P12 integrates a double-stack or staggered-round magazine that in civilian trim will hold the full ten-round legal limit.

Seven Ways to Tote the 1911

The full-sized 1911-style .45 ACP pistol is widely used for both self-defense and competitive shooting, and there are dizzying numbers of holsters used to carry it in everyday situations or on the range. But after extensive winnowing down of dozens of holsters, we've found some models have design features that make sense to us.

Among the many holsters available today we have come to like seven different models in particular, and below we describe briefly why these units stand out, in our opinion. Some of the designs, such as the Safariland 011, Bianchi's PDQ, and the Hoffners Speed Pro, are unique. The others are based on designs closely related to traditional styles that have been reproduced and refined for years. Though we normally cover both good and bad products head to head, in this case we instead concentrate on ones we think are worth buying, rather than detailing the faults of products that don't make the grade.

In our opinion, the seven holsters we've assembled in this article should be all the leather and plastic you'll ever need to carry the 1911 or its variants.

Picking A Personal Pistol Grip: Life-and-Death Considerations

[IMGCAP(1)]Handgun grips may be made of many diverse materials. Some are chosen for appearance, like genuine elephant or fossil ivory or finely figured wood. Others are used for economy, like plastics. Black rubber, usually sticky and soft, is commonly used in factory grips from many makers, particularly where recoil might be heavy. Wood laminates also are increasingly common, and these can be very attractive as well. The final finish on the grip can be either carved, fully or partially checkered, or left smooth. The grip can include grooves for the fingers or thumbs.

But whats the best material for self-defense handguns? This isnt so crucial a question for guns used for other purposes...

Barrel Comparison Test: To Flute Or Not To Flute

[IMGCAP(1)] We have always shied away from fluting barrels. As an old machinist told us many moons ago, the more you machine a piece of steel, the more chance you'll generate problems. For instance, one problem barrel fluting can cause arises from dulling tools. The cutter gradually dulls as the flutes are milled, and they tend to generate a hard surface case in the bottom of the flutes. This is not a problem if these areas of hardness are the same. But the process tends to produce a variable hardness in the flute-groove bottom. As the flutes are cut, the cutter is gradually dulling, and the first groove is not as hard as the bottom of the last groove. This can cause stress in the barrel, an...

Give Precision Reloading a Shot

How do you succeed in at least approaching the levels of accuracy you’d like? It’s common knowledge in accuracy circles that although correctly mating the barreled-action and stock will usually shrink groups from factory rifles, the greatest improvement (short of screwing on a custom barrel) typically comes from working up a good handload. In fact, a firm that specializes in accurizing factory hunting rifles recently noted that compared to factory ammunition, optimum handloads often trim group sizes in half.

The term “working up a good handload” conjures an image of nothing more than arriving at the right bullet driven by the correct powder charge touched off by the proper primer. What...

Lee Hand Priming Tools More Convenient Than RCBS Tool

Your loading press comes with a priming attachment of some sort, but it’s not entirely satisfactory. The problem is too much leverage; you can’t feel when the primer is fully seated. In other words, you can’t tell when the primer has been pushed to the bottom of the primer pocket. Continued pressure beyond this point will distort the outer cup and may even crush the primer compound pellet. Failure to seat the primer all the way to the bottom causes another set of problems. The firing pin may expend so much of its energy pushing the primer down into the pocket that it doesn’t have enough left to fire the primer. Or, if friction holds the primer cup in place, the firing pin may drive the pelle...

Peltor Tactical 7 Our Choice In Electronic Earmuffs

Youth and hearing have something in common: once they are gone, they don’t come back. Youth and hearing also have something not in common: you can preserve your hearing.

According to information in the public service brochure entitled Noise, Ears, and Hearing Protection, published by the American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery, 1 in 10 Americans has a hearing loss that affects his ability to understand normal speech. Excessive noise exposure is the most common cause of hearing loss.

If you think you have become accustomed to loud noises, you have probably damaged your ears. There is no treatment, no medicine, no surgery, or hearing aid that will truly correct your hear...

Nikon 20X Spotting Scope A Best Buy For The Shooting Bench

The evolution of spotting scopes seems to have maintained pace with other advancements in the firearms and shooting accessory industry. This fact was strongly realized when we compared the equipment in this test to the spotting scope one of testers has mounted in his pistol box. It's an O. F. Mossberg & Sons Model A "Spotshot" 20x. In 1963, its list price was $29.95. It has a 38mm objective lens. Its 10mm ocular lens is mounted at the end of a sliding tube, which is pulled in and out to rough-focus, then rotated to fine-focus. Considering inflation, we certainly get a lot for our money today, in quality, warranty, and advances in manufacturing and the science of optics.

However, the Mossb...

Howard Leight Optimuff: Good All-In-One Eye and Ear Protection

We can remember a time when few people wore any kind of safety equipment while shooting a firearm. So, a number of them no longer hear and see as well as they did. Learning from past misfortunes, smart shooters now wear both ear and eye protection.There are two problems with wearing safety glasses and earmuffs together. First, earmuffs press the temples of the safety glasses against the sides of the shooter’s head, which becomes a source of discomfort. Second, the glasses’ temples can break the earmuff’s cushion-to-head seal, lessening the effectiveness of the muffs.

One solution to both of these problems is the Optimuff by Howard Leight Industries. It is an all-in-one unit consisting...

RCBS PowderMaster An Accurate Electronic Powder Dispenser

A few years ago (December 1995 issue), we tested a Lyman Autoscale electronic powder dispenser and it didn’t work very well. The loads were always overweight; dangerously overweight some times. We think the problem was caused by the inertia of the beam balance scale, which was built into the dispenser.

The subject of this test is the RCBS PowderMaster, and it’s a winner. This electronic powder dispenser probably dispenses loads more accurately than you can weigh by hand. There’s no inertia problem because it uses an electronic scale. But the PowderMaster’s price is a little high—$214 plus the cost of the scale—and its speed is a little slow, compared to a volumetric powder measure. That’...

Burris Signature 6-24x Tops Other Varmint Rifle Scopes

For most kinds of deer hunting, a 3-9x rifle scope is a good choice. It provides a fairly wide field of view, which makes acquiring the target relatively easy, and a good range of magnification. However, when hunting varmints at long distances, a much more powerful scope is needed. A 6-24x scope with at least a 40mm objective lens is generally considered to be a good varmint scope.

However, this rather limited definition of a varmint scope promptly expanded when we started buying scopes for this test. We found two 20x scopes that outperformed most of the 24x scopes, and a 44mm scope that was smaller than most 40mm scopes. Our final choice of optics for this evaluation included the eight...

Variable Power At Your Fingertips: Tasco Gets Our Best Buy Nod

Shooters of many different stripes enjoy the flexibility 6-20X and 6-24X variable riflescopes give them. These products' extended power ranges allow them to be used at their low settings for indoor air rifle or rimfire and centerfire hunting use. Dialed up, they allow shooters to shoot spots on silhouette targets or pick their spots on long-range game animals with .300 Win. Mag-class beanfield rifles. With the right glass and mounts, a shooter can easily make one of these variable scopes work in several scenarios, assuming its owner has the skills and steadiness to use the high-mag settings.

Ideally, such products should provide crisp looks at targets and accurate adjustments to compensat...

Hello, Fellow Felons

If you haven’t heard yet, be advised that millions of gun owners may soon be classified as felons if a new Bureau of Alcohol,...