Last year, we began testing suppressors on rifles and handguns because we saw that the sound-abatement equipment was becoming a lot more popular. This was a surprise because suppressors are expensive and hard to transact, so it takes a lot of patience and money to get started, and there is a fair amount of legal liability if you get it wrong. Despite these drawbacks, since we began this journey suppressor regulations have become much more relaxed across the country, with all but a handful of gun-restrictive states allowing the devices. Still, it will take a couple of generations for suppressors to become mainstream and for the misconceptions about them to evaporate.
For some, these unobtrusive pieces of hollow metal will always be tied to clandestine assassin or spec-ops use rather than as portable hearing protection. Pity, because during our testing with them, we have found a lot of salutary benefits behind the gun, whether long gun or sidearm. Suppressed firearms not only have shown better accuracy in most cases, they are certainly better mannered with a can hanging off the front. Muzzle flip and blast are easier to control with a can in place, and that improves accuracy and enjoyment.
We initially chose handguns chambered in 45 ACP because they offered a lot of full-power bullet weights and shapes that run below the speed of sound, so it’s easy to find good ammo that suppresses well. For the handguns, we started with three full-size non-1911 45s from Glock, HK, and FN, all of which come from the factory suppressor-ready. Reviewed in the September 2018 issue, we recommended the FN America FNX-45 Tactical FDE 66968 45 ACP, $1200. We had function trouble with a Glock G21SF PF2150203TB 45 ACP, $511, and didn’t recommend it. The third polymer gun was the Heckler & Koch Mark 23 45 ACP M723001-A5, $2300. It was big and expensive and very nice to shoot. Some of our testers said that if they were to buy the HK Mark 23, they would remember the day as fondly as when they got their favorite dog, which is high praise indeed.
Our 1911-style test guns this time included the Kimber America 1911 Warrior SOC 3000253 TFS with Crimson Trace Rail Master Laser Sight, $1309. We had loan of this immaculate early-model SOC with about 250 rounds through it, half of which were fired with an Osprey 45 suppressor like the one in this test. The Warrior SOC has an accessory rail built into the dust cover, which allows fitting a desert-tan Crimson Trace Rail Master laser as part of the package.
The second gun was a Remington 1911 R1 Enhanced Threaded Barrel 96339, $675, a recent in-stock price from TombstoneTactical.com. This was a well-outfitted gun for the money, coming with the 5.5-inch barrel threaded .578-28 like the others, two 8-round magazines with bumper pads, and a lot of other features we detail below.
The third handgun was from American Tactical Imports, the ATIFGX45K FX1911, which has become discontinued during our test period. However, used, new, and like-new versions exist on gun boards across the web, usually for around $525, a recent price from BudsGunShop.com.
The fourth gun was a tester’s custom 1911 build from Carter Custom Weaponry, into which we planned to drop aftermarket barrels. We did change the barrel twice, both times requiring gunsmith intervention. But there were issues with the plan that required us to spend more money than we wanted to, which we detail below.
45 ACP Range Data
|Prvi Partizan (PPU) 185-gr. SJHP PP-R4.31||Kimber Warrior SOC||Remington 1911 R1 ETB|
|Average velocity||942 fps||884 fps||876 fps||920 fps|
|Muzzle energy||364 ft.-lbs.||321 ft.-lbs.||315 ft.-lbs.||348 ft.-lbs.|
|Average group||1.8 in.||2.3 in.||2.2 in.||1.6 in.|
|Fiocchi Ammunition 200-gr. JHP 45B500|
|Average velocity||1004 fps||1041 fps||987 fps||1025 fps|
|Muzzle energy||448 ft.-lbs.||481 ft.-lbs.||432 ft.-lbs.||466 ft.-lbs.|
|Average group||2.3 in.||1.6 in.||1.6 in.||1.8 in.|
|Winchester USA 230-gr. FMJ Q4170|
|Average group||866 fps||895 fps||843 fps||879 fps|
|Muzzle energy||383 ft.-lbs.||409 ft.-lbs.||363 ft.-lbs.||394 ft.-lbs.|
|Average group||2.2 in.||2.5 in.||1 in.||1.5 in.|
|Prvi Partizan (PPU) 185-gr. SJHP PP-R4.31||ATI FX1911||Carter Custom w/ Briley Barrel|
|Average velocity||924 fps||NA||867 fps||902 fps|
|Muzzle energy||351 ft.-lbs.||NA||309 ft.-lbs.||334 ft.-lbs.|
|Average group||2.6 in.||NA||2.2 in.||3.5 in.|
|Fiocchi Ammunition 200-gr. JHP 45B500|
|Average velocity||994 fps||NA||997 fps||1020 fps|
|Muzzle energy||439 ft.-lbs.||NA||441 ft.-lbs.||462 ft.-lbs.|
|Average group||3.2 in.||NA||1.6 in.||1.6 in.|
|Winchester USA 230-gr. FMJ Q4170|
|Average velocity||886 fps||NA||853 fps||878 fps|
|Muzzle energy||401 ft.-lbs.||NA||371 ft.-lbs.||394 ft.-lbs.|
|Average group||3.1 in.||NA||1.8 in.||1.8 in.|
To collect chronograph and accuracy data, we set up at American Shooting Centers in Houston (AMShootCenters.com). We recorded velocities using an Oehler Model 35 Proof Chronograph ($595 from Oehler-Research.com), with the first screen set 5 feet from the muzzle. Velocities were recorded with an air temperature of 50 degrees and 40% humidity, with 10 o’clock 20-mph winds. For bench-accuracy shooting at 25 yards, we fired the handguns off Caldwell DeadShot shooting bags. Accuracy is the average group size for five five-shot groups, measured center-to-center of the widest-apart bullet holes in each group, then rounded to the nearest tenth of an inch. The suppressed data were collected with a SilencerCo Osprey 45, $756 at SilencerShop.com in Austin, Texas. 45 ACP ammo sources: Prvi Partizan Ammunition (PPU) 185-grain Semi-Jacketed Hollow Point PP-R4.31, ($18/50 from SportsmansGuide.com); Fiocchi Ammunition 200-grain Jacketed Hollow Point 45B500 ($24/50 from MidwayUSA.com), and Winchester USA Ammunition 230-grain Full Metal Jacket Q4170 ($17/50 from PrimaryArms.com).
For this test, we attached a SilencerCo Osprey 45, recently $756 at SilencerShop.com. This is just for the shell; you must also buy a piston threaded for your specific handgun. To fit our pistols and replacement barrels, we needed just the 0.578×28-tpi piston , $71. The polygonal Osprey has a monocore stainless-steel baffle design inside a black-oxide aluminum shell. It weighs 11.1 ounces and is 8 inches long. According to Silencer Shop’s data, the SilencerCo Osprey 45 provides a hearing-safe 131.3 dB output with subsonic 45 ACP ammo.
Of course, you must also buy an NFA tax stamp for the suppressor, which SilencerShop.com sells for $205. We would also advise buying Silencer Shop’s NFA Single Shot Trust service, $25. The Single Shot Trust simplifies the registration process by using one trust per silencer (or other NFA item). Your Form 4 and trust will be generated simultaneously, and they will be named automatically after the item’s serial number. Moreover, no notary is required, only your fingerprint data and photo. Trustees may be added once ATF approval is received, and electronically signing your Form 4 via DocuSign completes this streamlined process. You don’t have to track down a bunch of trustees and get them all to the notary to complete the forms. If you plan on purchasing more silencers in the future, be sure to check out the Single Shot Unlimited version of the trust paperwork.
The Osprey comes with a tool to remove the piston. To install the piston in the end attaching to the muzzle, the user slides the piston (a stainless cylinder with spokes on one end) into a spring inside a threaded adapter, which then screws into the suppressor body. Installation was simple: With the magazine out of the pistol and the action locked open, we screwed off the thread protector, then held the pistol muzzle at 12 o’clock and started the Osprey onto the provided muzzle threads. We had no trouble attaching the suppressor to any of the pistols. We must reiterate that to make installation safe, remove the magazine, clear the chamber, and lock the action open on the unloaded pistol. These are musts for your safety because the working hand gets in front of the muzzle when removing the thread protector and installing the can. We then screwed the Osprey down as far as it would go onto the muzzle threads, aligned it with the top of the barrel, and tightened the locking collar. So equipped, we were ready to shoot the test guns with a lot less muzzle blast and sound. Here’s how they performed:
Kimber America 1911 Warrior SOC 3000253 TFS with Crimson Trace Rail Master Laser Sight 45 ACP, $1309
GUN TESTS GRADE: B-
Ran haltingly and accuracy wasn’t as good as the Remington R1-ETB overall.
|ACTION||Semi-auto single action|
|OVERALL LENGTH||9.3 in.|
|OVERALL LENGTH w/ SUPPRESSOR||16.9 in.|
|OVERALL HEIGHT||5.25 in.|
|MAX WIDTH||1.4 in.|
|WEIGHT UNLOADED||44 oz.|
|WEIGHT LOADED||48.8 oz.|
|WEIGHT LOADED w/ SUPPRESSOR||59.2 oz.|
|BARREL||5.5 in., 1:16 LH twist; match-grade stainless steel w/ match grade bushing; polished chamber and feed ramp; muzzle thread 0.578×28 w/ thread protector|
|MAGAZINES||1; polished blued steel, single stack; flat basepad|
|SLIDE||Desert tan stainless-steel Service Melt treatment; front/rear cocking serrations; KimPro II finish; standard military-length guide rod|
|SLIDE-RETRACTION EFFORT UNCOCKED||10.5 lbs.|
|SLIDE-RETRACTION EFFORT COCKED||5 lbs.|
|FRAME||KimPro II dark green steel; 4-slot MIL-STD-1913 rail; 24-lpi checkering; left-side slide-stop lever; lanyard loop|
|FRAME FRONT STRAP HEIGHT||2.53 in., 24-lpi checkering|
|FRAME BACK STRAP HEIGHT||2.81 in., 24-lpi checkering|
|GRIPS||Kimber G-10 tactical|
|GRIP THICKNESS (max)||1.33 in.|
|GRIP CIRCUMFERENCE (max)||5.5 in.|
|FRONT SIGHT||Suppressor-height post, tritium green dot|
|REAR SIGHT||Suppressor-height square notch, serrated rear face; two tritium green dots; cocking shoulder|
|SIGHT RADIUS||6.8 in.|
|OPTIC||Desert Tan Crimson Trace Rail Master red laser|
|TRIGGER PULL WEIGHT (SA)||5.6 lbs.|
|TRIGGER SPAN (SA)||2.78 in.|
|TRIGGER||Serrated aluminum, match grade|
|SAFETY||Ambi frame-mounted lever, beavertail|
|WARRANTY||1-year limited lifetime|
The $1309 price listed above is a recent cite from SportsmansOutdoorSuperstore.com. Two acronyms in the Kimber’s name are especially meaningful: SOC stands for Special Operations Capable, and TFS means Threaded For Suppressor. Since we began testing this gun three months ago, the webpage for this particular model has been pulled off the Kimber website. If you’re still interested in the Kimber after reading this summary, the Desert Warrior TFS 3000237 is much the same pistol in all-over Desert Tan, but it lacks the laser. We think that’s fine because the supplied Crimson Trace red laser wasn’t visible in daylight anyway. It was excellent for dusk and nighttime work, but it also precluded the use of a light on the gun. We always want to be sure of our target before firing, so not being able to put a light on the gun while using the laser created a problem. The red dot of the laser was certainly visible with all the handheld lights we tried, so it’s possible (and for some, preferable) to hold the light with the off-hand. Also, we noted that the Osprey suppressor did not block the laser when the can was attached. Nonetheless, on its website Kimber offers Crimson Trace Lasergrips for $339 (4000932, a red variant), which would allow the shooter to put a light on the rail and have use of the suppressor. If you choose to do that, a better choice, in our opinion, is CT’s LG-904G Green Master Series Lasergrips G10, $479, because the green dot is visible in daylight and the Lasergrip frees slots on the rail for a light on the gun. Crimson Trace also offers less-expensive green variants and other green lasers with different panel color schemes if you want to color-coordinate the Kimber’s color scheme. Another option would be to use a combo light/laser unit like the SureFire X400 Ultra — Green Laser unit (X400U-A-GN) mounted on the rail.
Otherwise, the SOC is a 1911 pistol with a two-tone color pattern, dark green on the frame and flat dark earth on the slide. Both parts have the corrosion-resistant KimPro II finish applied. The controls, including the ambidextrous thumb safeties, trigger, and grip safety, were black. The grip carries earth-tone G10 panels that our shooters liked when wearing gloves, but which abraded the inside of the firing-hand thumb a lot when shooting gloveless. We had a similar complaint about the Remington 1911R1. The grip panels on the ATI and Carter Custom gun were less irritating, we found.
The pistol has an ambidextrous thumb safety, which makes it suitable for lefties or righties, a skeletonized hammer, and an extended beavertail grip safety with a bump for better engagement. A serrated aluminum trigger was supposed to break between 4 and 5 pounds from the factory, but on our unit the trigger activated at 5.6 pounds on average. In our view, the triggers on the R1-ETB and the Carter guns were better than the Kimber’s. Kimber’s Warrior SOC comes with a match-grade 5.5-inch barrel and match-grade bushings. The extra half inch of barrel length beyond what’s common on Kimber’s other 1911s is to accommodate the 0.57828-tpi threading, which will work with many 45 ACP suppressors. A knurled thread protector is also included. A military-length guide rod allows for quick field takedown without tools.
The SOC features a lanyard-hole-equipped mainspring housing, the backstrap of which has an aggressive checkering pattern on it as well. The frontstrap was also checkered, but the pattern was less abrasive on the shooting hand’s fingers, and, in fact, offered a good grip. The front points of the magwell were extremely sharp, and we would have removed them with the pass of a file except it would have taken the green finish with it, we believe. The top of the Kimber’s slide, which has been dehorned, did not mark soft tissue. Capacity is 7+1, and we got only a single magazine with our gun. Relatively speaking, the Kimber-marked magazine was harder to load than all the others.
The pistol had a tight slide-to-frame fit, and the slide operated smoothly. All the controls operated as expected. The magazine-release button allowed the magazine to fall cleanly from the gun, and the ambi safeties allowed seamless both-hands operation. The durable KimPro II finish, applied to withstand harsh use in rough environments, showed no wear even after extensive handling and shooting. The slide had both front and rear serrations.
Meprolight MH3 three-dot tritium night sights were spaced to 6.8 inches of sight radius, and the shooter-facing side of the rear sight was finely grooved to reduce glare. We liked the sights; they offered great visibility above the Osprey and were easy to read. The same was true for the R1-ETB and the ATI, but not on the Carter gun. Also, the muzzle-side face of the rear sight is squared off, so the shooter who needs to rack the gun with one hand can do so on any handy table, window ledge, or other firm surface. Both sights were dovetailed into the top of the slide, and the rear would be windage-adjustable by drifting in the dovetail. A small hex-head screw locks the rear sight into place.
The laser was very easy to operate. Push-to-operate tabs on both sides of the laser turned the Crimson Trace unit on, and they could be manipulated with a single hand on the gun. On the down side, the laser sometimes switched itself on during recoil. Installation on the rail is simple using a flat-blade screwdriver, and the laser is adjustable for windage and elevation using a small Allen wrench. We liked shooting with the laser in low-light conditions because the bright-red dot downrange removed any issues for aging eyes, and the laser shows the shooter’s hold quality depressingly well. Reading the dot’s movement immediately shows the advantage of proper grip and trigger control, which can dramatically improve accuracy and reduce time between shots for any level of shooter.
At the range, we ran into problems using the suppressor. The owner of the handgun had fired fewer than 250 rounds through the Kimber, so we ignored problems in the first 50 rounds while we thoroughly broke the gun in. Once we began accuracy testing, however, we saw the PPU and Fiocchi blunt-nose rounds skid to a stop on the ramp and not feed. This led to some spectacular stoppages, with rounds still being captured by the magazine but with their noses wedged against the ramp. We’d have to hold the gun action open, press the magazine release, then push the top round back into the magazine enough for the mag to drop. We had eight such stoppages during the accuracy and chronograph testing, and we had another five failures to go into battery completely. The Winchester 230-grain ball ammunition didn’t exhibit these problems.
Our Team Said: Using its supplied magazine, the Kimber was finicky about what it would shoot, and we don’t like that. You might be willing to find a certain ammunition that feeds and functions perfectly in the gun, but we can’t recommend that uncertain outcome. To its credit, the Kimber Warrior SOC is well built, nicely appointed, and it was certainly accurate enough for self defense in most circumstances. But in our view, it comes in third here.
Remington 1911 R1 Enhanced Threaded Barrel 96339 45 ACP, $675
GUN TESTS GRADE: A
This was a well-outfitted gun for the money. If we were in the market for a new 1911, we’d
strongly consider the threaded-barrel model over the company’s other offerings that lack the
feature. You may not have a suppressor right now, but maybe some day you will.
|ACTION||Semi-auto single action|
|OVERALL LENGTH||9.75 in.|
|OVERALL LENGTH w/ SUPPRESSOR||16.5 in.|
|OVERALL HEIGHT||6 in.|
|MAX WIDTH||1.25 in.|
|WEIGHT UNLOADED||41 oz.|
|WEIGHT LOADED||46.6 oz.|
|WEIGHT LOADED w/ SUPPRESSOR||56.8 oz.|
|BARREL||5.5 in., stainless steel; thread pitch .578-28 w/ knurled thread protector|
|MAGAZINES||(2) 8-round black-steel single stack; black polymer detachable baseplate|
|SLIDE||7.5 in. long, 1-piece machined carbon steel, front & rear cocking serrations|
|SLIDE-RETRACTION EFFORT UNCOCKED||15.5 lbs.|
|SLIDE-RETRACTION EFFORT COCKED||9 lbs.|
|FRAME||Matte-black carbon steel; Ed Brown-style beavertail w/raised pad, 20-lpi checkering; extended slide-release lever (L); left-side mag-release button; flat mainspring housing, checkered|
|FRAME FRONT STRAP HEIGHT||3.2 in., vertical serrations|
|FRAME BACK STRAP HEIGHT||3.3 in., 20-lpi checkering|
|GRIPS||Checkered black-and-brown laminate w/ magazine relief cut|
|GRIP THICKNESS (max)||1.4 in.|
|GRIP CIRCUMFERENCE (max)||6 in.|
|FRONT SIGHT||0.256 in. post, white dot, dovetailed; serrated, slanted front face, carbon steel|
|REAR SIGHT||1-dot, windage adj., slanted and serrated face, dovetailed w/set screw, suppressor height|
|SIGHT RADIUS||6.6 in.|
|TRIGGER||4 lbs. pull weight, 3-hole aluminum; adj. overtravel|
|TRIGGER SPAN (SA)||2.8 in.|
|TRIGGER GUARD||Matte-black carbon steel|
|SAFETIES||Frame-mounted left side lever; beavertail|
|WARRANTY||Limited 2 year|
|MADE IN||Huntsville, AL|
We first tested the 1911 R1 Enhanced No. 96328 back in the May 2012 edition. That gun graded an A-, mainly for the sharpness of the front sight housing. We also tested the R1 No. 96323, a GI-style 45 ACP, in the October 2012 issue and graded it an A+. The standard model looks like a wartime 1911, meaning the R1 standard version doesn’t have the Enhanced’s beavertail, great rear sight, or the lightened, Commander-style skeletonized hammer spur, among other features. We also tested the R1 Commander 96336 in the April 2015 issue, giving it a B grade because of some early malfunctions. All in all, we’ve been impressed with the company’s work on this 1911. And that continues with the R1 Enhanced Threaded Barrel, which we’ll abbreviate as the R1-ETB.
Our first impression of the R1-ETB was that it had a great finish, was tightly assembled, and had a great trigger, breaking at 4.0 pounds. The R1 Enhanced has the same Series 80-style internal firing-pin safety as the original R1, which many shooters don’t like because it can affect trigger-pull quality. That wasn’t the case here.
We liked the dull-black finish and the coarsely-checkered wood-laminate grip panels. The left-side panel features a thumb groove for a right-handed shooter. However, after only a few rounds, we wanted to cover the bare trigger hand with a glove because the panel texture under the right-hand thumb was pretty sharp. This was also a problem with the Kimber and ATI guns.
Midway down the left side of the slide a demure “Remington” was cut into the metal. In small letters below the ejection port, the word “ENHANCED” was stamped, and “1911 R1” appeared near the front serrations. The front strap had vertical serrations that helped keep the gun from twisting in the hand during recoil. The rear strap was straight, with a 20-lpi checkered-carbon-steel mainspring housing. The checkering extended to the bump on the grip safety, a nice touch, we thought. The left panel was cut away slightly to permit access to the extended magazine release, which was vertically serrated.
The R1-ETB’s front (four) and rear (seven) flat-bottomed slide cuts were easily used to lock back the slide or, with the forward serrations, press-check to see if a round was in the chamber. There’s also a slot at the back of the barrel that lets you see brass in the chamber. There were two well-made 8-round magazines in the fitted and cut pistol box. The magazines both had polymer drop pads that blended into the frontstrap and witness holes to show how many rounds are in them. The instruction book was very thorough and descriptive. We should note that on page 15, there was a warning not to “use ammunition marked with Plus P, ‘+P’ or any other high-velocity or [high-] pressure ammunition.”
The aluminum trigger had an adjustable stop and three holes for weight reduction. The left-side safety lever was 0.335-inch wide, which made it easy to use, and the shooter could ride the top of the safety with a thumb on it while shooting. The thumb safety had positive clicks up and down and no malfunctions.
The barrel was stainless steel, and the muzzle cuts for the suppressor were crisp. The carbon-steel thread cover was very finely machined, which looked good and worked fine. Remington says the tube is a match-grade model, and the results at the range suggest that’s true. Slide-to-frame fit and barrel fit were very good. The R1-ETB has a stainless-steel barrel bushing and a standard GI recoil spring/plug system.
The tall rear sight was a combat style with rounded edges and was drift-adjustable only for windage, with a small Allen-head screw locking it in place. The two dots, stacked on top of each other to form an “8” shape, were easy to see and align in the rear notch. The sights easily cleared the suppressor and came perfectly regulated for a mid-target hold at 25 yards. Both shooter-facing planes on the sights were angled and grooved to eliminate glare. The beveled forward surfaces of the rear sight permit easy and cut-free clearing of stovepipe jams, and the edges of the ejection port also didn’t cut us, which our hands surely appreciated.
Takedown was traditional and easy. Inside the slide was a trigger-release pin on the firing pin, which means the firing pin cannot move unless the trigger is pressed. Workmanship inside was excellent.
We had a handful of failures to go into battery at the start, requiring the shooter to push the back of the slide forward to allow the gun to fire. That worked out after about 50 rounds. By the time we got to the suppressed firing, the gun ran like a champ. Also, it was very accurate with the can or without, shooting the best of the test overall, although the Briley barrel edged it with the Fiocchi 200s.
There were a few spots on the R1-ETB that were sharp. Two worth singling out were the bottom of the grip frame and the front of magazine well. We would have liked more beveling inside the magazine well. The slide-to-frame fit was tight, but it didn’t stick. The trigger pull was behind only the custom Colt’s in break weight and crispness.
Our Team Said: The Remington R1 Enhanced Threaded Barrel was an excellent 1911. It had very good accuracy, worked perfectly with and without the suppressor after a minor break-in period, looked great, had an excellent trigger, and showed tight fitting and superb workmanship.
American Tactical Imports ATIFGX45K FX1911 45 ACP, $525
GUN TESTS GRADE: F
Since we began this test, this model has been discontinued. If other people’s experience was
like ours, we understand why. We had ongoing function problems with the suppressor.
|ACTION||Semi-auto single action|
|OVERALL LENGTH||8.5 in.|
|OVERALL LENGTH w/ SUPPRESSOR||15.25 in.|
|OVERALL HEIGHT||5.6 in.|
|MAX WIDTH||1.5 in.|
|WEIGHT UNLOADED||40 oz.|
|WEIGHT LOADED||46 oz.|
|WEIGHT LOADED w/ SUPPRESSOR||57 oz.|
|BARREL||4.75 in., 4140 steel; thread pitch .578-28 w/ thread protector|
|MAGAZINES||(1) 8-round ACT-Mag blued-steel single stack; black polymer detachable baseplate|
|SLIDE||6.6 in. long, 1-piece 4140 matte-black carbon steel, rear cocking serrations|
|SLIDE-RETRACTION EFFORT UNCOCKED||24 lbs.|
|SLIDE-RETRACTION EFFORT COCKED||15.5 lbs.|
|FRAME||Matte-black blued 4140 steel; accessory rail; beavertail w/raised pad, extended slide-release lever (L); left-side serrated mag-release button; flat mainspring housing, serrated|
|FRAME FRONT STRAP HEIGHT||2.8 in., plain|
|FRAME BACK STRAP HEIGHT||2.8 in., serrated|
|GRIPS||Checkered black polymer|
|GRIP THICKNESS (max)||1.34 in.|
|GRIP CIRCUMFERENCE (max)||5.6 in.|
|FRONT SIGHT||0.236 in. post, white dot, dovetailed; carbon steel|
|REAR SIGHT||U-shaped groove, windage adj., slanted and serrated face, dovetailed w/set screw, suppressor height|
|SIGHT RADIUS||5.6 in.|
|TRIGGER PULL WEIGHT||6.6 lbs. pull weight, 3-hole steel|
|TRIGGER SPAN||2.8 in.|
|TRIGGER GUARD||Matte-black stainless steel|
|SAFETY||Frame-mounted ambi lever; extended beavertail|
The 0.578×28 RH-threaded barrel will be compatible with most 45 ACP suppressors. The gun has a steel frame with blued finish and weighs 39.9 ounces. The FX45-K also features an ambidextrous manual safety, grip safety and locked breech. It has drift-adjustable target sights, external hammer, and target trigger.
As we noted, since we began the research and shooting for this article, this unit has been discontinued. And if our experience is any guide, we can see why. Set up with the Osprey, our gun was plagued with failures to feed and failures to go into battery, so much so that we couldn’t get it to run long enough to gather range data. It wasn’t unsafe, but it was so unreliable that we wouldn’t want our readers to consider it. A call to ATI’s customer-support line said that if the firearm was malfunctioning as we described, then we should return it for warranty work. That’s what we’ll try next.
Our Team Said: Don’t buy it.
Carter Custom Weaponry Colt 1991A1 w/Replacement Barrels
This is not a test of the handgun itself, which was built several years ago by pistolsmith Ross Carter. Rather, we wanted to see if adding a threaded barrel to an existing firearm was a judicious option if you wanted to save some money getting into suppressors, which are expensive enough. There were problems from the start.
We started with an online trip to Brownells.com to find what barrels there might be for the tight and accurate Carter handgun, which was originally fitted with a Wilson Combat barrel, bushing, and link. We saw that Nighthawk Custom (NighthawkCustom.com) made a series of match-grade threaded-barrel choices (Brownells 100-011-457, $250). It was very clear on the Brownells webpage that the barrel required gunsmith fitting, and a barrel bushing, pin, and link were not provided.
So we took the gun and Nighthawk parts to a local gunsmith for fitting, $100. When we got it back, it was so tight we could barely open the slide, and the gun wouldn’t go back into battery without a lot of force. We tried shooting it in, but we couldn’t get more than a few rounds through it. By this time, the gunsmith had moved on, and we didn’t have any recourse to get it resolved with him.
So we took the Carter Colt to Briley Mfg. in Houston (Briley.com) and asked them to fit the barrel, $125. After a couple of weeks, a salesman contacted us and said they couldn’t fit the Nighthawk barrel into the Colt without a lot of machining hours and parts that would quickly add up, but they could fit a new Briley threaded barrel for $275. We elected to do the latter.
We had some failures to go into battery with the Briley barrel initially, but function firing it about 100 rounds eliminated the problems. We proceeded to accuracy and chronograph testing and were happy to see the great groups we were shooting unsuppressed. And here’s where the next problem cropped up.
We had known from the start that the existing sights would be, perhaps, tall enough to shoot over the top of the installed Osprey suppressor, but they were not suppressor-height by any means, and that turned out to be correct. We could barely see the front sight in the rear notch with the suppressor on, but it was a very thin sight picture. To truly get the gun functional, it needed new, taller sights. Depending on what we chose, that would run another couple of hundred bucks.
Our intention all along had been to use the Carter Colt as a proven testbed for the barrels and then restore the pistol to its original setup after the test, so this meant changing the sights on an already great-shooting gun. Unsuppressed in its original form, it was a 2-inch gun at 25 yards and perfectly reliable. It was time to cut bait. We added a Crimson Trace Master Series LG904G Green Lasergrip, $419 at CrimsonTrace.com, which gave us daytime visibility, unlike the red laser on the Kimber. Also, it improved our ability to shoot the Carter Colt suppressed or unsuppressed and allowed us to keep the existing Bo-Mar sights. We were able to co-witness the laser and the sights at 25 yards, so the gun shoots to point of aim either way. But if the laser fails or is blocked, we don’t have much accuracy with the suppressor on. Also, the laser barely cleared the bottom right corner of the Osprey, which it might not on your gun. A smaller-bodied suppressor would be advisable, or if your gun has a rail, add a green laser/light there.
Our Team Said: We don’t recommend you take this journey. Allow our mistakes to guide you. If you decide to add suppressor functionality to an existing firearm, we learned it’s a mistake to use a super-tight gun to start. We noted during the test of polymer handguns that Glock offered replacement threaded barrels that were drop-ins. That seems like the way to go. If you have an unthreaded barrel, wait until your gunmaker offers replacement threaded barrels for your gun model. Or, if you have a tight gun like the Carter Colt, send the gun back to the pistolsmith to get a threaded barrel added, along with new sights if you prefer. Also, there are springing issues to take note of that we didn’t encounter, but which are worth mentioning. Putting a weight on the end of a 1911 barrel can change the relationships of some pretty important parts inside the gun as it operates, and that can cause tough-to-diagnose malfunctions. So you’re asking for trouble going that route, we believe.
All that said, we were happy with the work Briley did on the gun, and $275 seems like a reasonable price for the parts and the fitting. But we think you’ll be better served buying a gun like the R1-ETB rather than trying to add parts. Effectively, we spent enough on the barrel and laser to make the Carter gun work as well as the Remington did out of the box. Buy the R1-ETB instead.
Written and photographed by Gun Tests staff, using evaluations from Gun Tests team testers.