Expensive 1911s: Kimber, Lone Star, and Wilson Shoot It Out
We pit a trio of custom production guns and learn a lot about what makes a topnotch .45 ACP. But did we like Kimberís LTP II, the Lone Star Lawman Match, or Wilsonís CQB best?
Traditionally, out-of-the-box 1911 .45s have featured none of the “custom combat” features that serious 1911 shooters deem desirable. That situation has changed, and these days the typical factory 1911 sports all the features that, until a few years ago, would have required installation by a pistolsmith.
For some, the typical $600 1911 is not enough; however, they’re not up for paying $3,000 or more for a hand-built gun from a true custom shop. Solution: Several makers now offer “factory custom” 1911s for less money than a spare-no-expense custom piece. Typically, a 1911 factory’s top-of-the-line single-stack-magazine 1911 .45 will cost around $1,500 to $2,000. True custom shop guns start at that price. Let’s say you’ve got two grand just burning a hole in your pocket, and you want the best possible 1911 for the money. Which should you go for, the most expensive factory gun possible, or the most affordable option from a custom shop? Which gives you the most gun?
To find out, we tested three guns head to head. Our representative “factory custom” 1911 .45 was the Kimber LTP II. Our true custom 1911s were Lone Star’s Lawman Match and Wilson Combat’s CQB. The LTP II and Lawman Match are, respectively, Kimber and Lone Star’s most expensive autos; the CQB is Wilson’s least expensive. Here’s what we thought of each gun.
“LTP” stands for Limited Ten Pistol. Kimber intends this to be a full-featured 1911 giving the shooter everything he needs to compete in the extremely popular Limited-10 division of the United States Practical Shooting Association. Limited-10 division rules allow single-action auto pistols which are non-compensated, have no electronic red-dot sights, and carry no more than 10 rounds in the magazine. Minimum caliber to “make Major” is .40. This all spells, of course, “single-stack 1911 .45.” The Roman numeral II in the LTP’s name refers to the fact the gun features a firing-pin lock, as do all current production Kimbers.
Examining the gun, we noted major components of the LTP II were finished in Kimber’s KimPro, a spray-on/bake-on phenolic resin. The skeletonized, long match trigger was brushed aluminum. The barrel, barrel bushing, full-length one-piece recoil spring guide rod and plug, ambidextrous speed safety levers, lugged beavertail grip safety, and combination mainspring housing/magazine funnel were all stainless steel. The sides of the black rowel hammer were polished bare stainless steel. These silver parts, combined with gun’s black slide, frame and sights, imparted a handsome two-tone effect, in our view. Grip panels were rosewood, checkered in the traditional double-diamond pattern of custom 1911 grips.
Metalwork on the LTP II was impressive. The only visible roughness/tool marks were hidden inside the slide. Externally there’s not a flaw to be found. Overall barrel-to-slide-to-frame fit was tight: We saw no movement of the slide on the frame, from side-to-side or up-and-down; nor did we see movement of the barrel when pressing on the barrel hood through the ejection port with the gun in battery.
The LTP II’s front sight was mildly ramped and installed in a cross-dovetail cut. The blade was 0.132-inch-wide according to dial calipers. The rear unit, patterned after the famous Bo-Mar Combat Sight, was fully adjustable for windage and elevation; its notch was 0.120-inch wide and 0.082-inch deep. The front sight on this gun was somewhat wider, and the rear notch tighter, than we’re used to seeing on 1911s. The standard for “high visibility combat sights” is a front blade and rear notch both of 0.125-inch. Why on Earth pistol manufacturers insist on putting fat front sights and tight, shallow notched rears on combat/match pistols, when a wider, deeper notch and narrower front sight are far easier to visually pick up at speed, has always confused us.
The LTP II’s recoil-spring guide rod was a one-piece full-length tungsten unit. Tungsten is considerably heavier than steel, so placing this extra weight out front is intended to cut down on muzzle flip. It also explains why the LTP II weighs several ounces more than the other guns tested.
The LTP II, in lieu of the traditional 1911 extractor, has a spring-loaded external extractor that looks similar to the extractor on a Glock, though internally it’s quite different.
Depressing the LTP II’s grip safety causes a rod, traveling up through the frame, to lift a firing pin block in the slide, allowing the firing pin to move forward. This was a take on the old Swartz system, used on about 3,000 Colt Government Models made just prior to World War II. Should the gun be dropped, the grip safety is released and the lock moves back down into place to block firing-pin movement and provide peace of mind to those worried about dropped-gun “inertial discharges.” Unlike the famous Colt Series 80 mechanism, the Swartz system does not require adding multiple tiny levers into the gun, and, because it does not bear on the trigger mechanism at all, has no effect on trigger pulls. Speaking of which, trigger pulls on the LTP II were excellent. According to our NRA weight set, the trigger broke right at 3.5 pounds, which many well-trained 1911 fans consider the perfect trigger-pull weight for a combination match/carry gun. (However, a trigger this light might be unsafe for less experienced shooters. We note that inexperienced shooters are not this gun’s intended market.) The aluminum match trigger features an overtravel stop that prevents continued rearward movement of the trigger after the sear releases. The LTP’s overtravel screw had actually been adjusted to perform its intended function, a rarity among factory 1911s.
The LTP II is unique in the Kimber line because it features 20-lpi checkering on the frontstrap and backstrap for increased traction and recoil control under rapid fire. Every other checkered Kimber 1911 has 30-lpi checkering. Also the LTP II has 30-lpi checkering under the trigger guard, intended to bear on the top of the support hand index finger and stop the “weak” hand from slipping on the gun. Some people dote on this feature; some people hate it. One thing’s for sure: With a checkered trigger guard, you’d better have your support-hand position right with first contact to the gun — because after you lock down it’s not going anywhere. The tab of the slide-stop lever and semi-extended magazine release button were likewise checkered.
It’s worth noting the LTP II has angled slide-cocking serrations front and rear. The slide has been flat topped and then carved with front-to-back striations, a visually appealing touch.
The LTP II, in keeping with its name, came equipped with two stainless steel, elongated 10-round magazines, made for Kimber by OEM manufacturer Metalform. Inserting all 10 rounds into the magazine was easily accomplished. With the slide forward, topped-off magazines snapped into the gun without undue effort. Not every 10-round 1911 .45 magazine out there accomplishes this basic step, we’ve found.
When the gun was brand new, there was enough “spring” between the two halves of the ambidextrous safety that sometimes, even with the left thumb pushing the off-side lever all the way down as far as it would go, the right-hand lever (which must move down to off-safe the gun) wouldn’t budge more than a fraction of an inch. Sometimes the part worked as intended and off-safed smoothly. Sometimes it didn’t. Fortunately, inside 200 rounds fired, the safety levers began moving as they should, even when operated left handed. This was a minor point, cured simply through a bit of wear-in, but was something to be aware of.
Several testers found the LTP II’s grip safety would not depress far enough to disengage and allow the gun to fire when held with a straight-thumbs “IPSC grip,” when held loosely, or with one hand only, either right or left handed. This is a common problem with factory 1911s. The raised lug on the bottom of the new breed of highrise beavertails was intended to rectify this problem. For some people it does; for some it doesn’t.
To test the gun’s accuracy we fired five-shot groups at 50 feet, the maximum distance possible on the indoor range at which we were shooting. For the accuracy portion of our testing we did not use Kimber’s 10-shot magazines; it’s not possible to bench-rest a gun with extra-long magazines protruding from its butt. Instead we used Wilson-Rogers standard length 7-rounders, the reliability standard for 1911 magazines.
The first few groups we fired did not impact to point of aim; however, the Bo-Mar pattern adjustable sights (actually manufactured by Kimber) allowed us to swiftly and easily center the groups. There’s something to be said for an adjustable sight. The most accurate rounds in the LTP II were the Speer Gold Dots, printing a one-hole group measuring 0.6-inch center-to-center. “Worst” group with the Gold Dots measured 1.3 inches, which equals the best accuracy of some of the other ammo. Next in accuracy, the best group with the Winchester SXTs was a tight 0.9-inch group, the worst was a 2-inch cluster. Federal Hydra-Shoks gave their best effort at 1.3 inches. It’s worth noting that one of the groups fired with Hydra-Shoks had four rounds in a tiny 0.5-inch one-hole group, with a single flier opening things up to 1.6 inches. Worst group with the Hydra-Shoks was a mediocre 2.4-incher, though honesty compels us to admit this group was fired late in the test session when staff members were beginning to tire. Black Hills LSWCs threw a best group of 1.8 inches and a worst of 2.1 inches.
The Kimber manual states (and we’re going to repeat this verbatim, misspellings, incorrect capitalizations and all), “Kimbers firearms are quality custom pieces. Our firearms are hand fitted to tight tolerances. For proper Break-in of the firearm shoot 400-500 rounds of Quality Factory (230g. FMJ) Ammunition, cleaning and lubricating the gun every 100-150 rounds.”
Our test procedures consisted of three parts: (1) firing the guns with several hundred rounds to break them in, (2) formal accuracy testing from the bench, and finally (3) the guns were thoroughly cleaned and then lubed with Break-Free before being tested for reliability from a standing, unsupported, two-handed firing position with a reasonably diverse assortment of five different loads: one LSWC, two standard pressure hollowpoints, one solid, one +P hollowpoint. In detail, these comprised the Black Hills red box 200-grain lead semi-wadcutter, Federal 230-grain Hydra-Shok jacketed hollowpoint, Federal Hi-Shok jacketed hollowpoint (basically a Hydra-Shok without the center post), a Speer 200-grain Total Metal Jacket, and last, a Georgia Arms 230-grain +P jacketed hollowpoint. During break-in and accuracy testing, malfunctions were noted but not considered as important as malfs after the gun was broken-in, cleaned and lubed.
Break-in and bench resting of the LTP II consumed 520 rounds of ammunition, after which the gun was field stripped and lubricated as described. Frankly this gun had the roughest slide action of any of our test pieces, so an especially long break-in period was deemed necessary, thus the 500 rounds plus figure. While firing the gun from the bench, we experienced several unusual malfunctions:
(1) With Federal Hydra-Shoks the slide stop, under recoil, moved sideways into the gun’s disassembly notch, holding the slide partially to the rear. Members of the Gun Tests staff have seen this malfunction before, though only on old, worn-out GI .45s, never a brand-new gun like the LTP II. This was a bad malfunction since a tap-rack-bang immediate action drill, or even an extended malfunction clearance drill, will not clear it out. Rectifying this particular malf swiftly requires being familiar with it, so you can recognize it for what it is, and push the slide stop inward with your thumb, back into place, allowing the slide to snap forward. This we did; the malfunction never reoccurred thereafter. Simply dimpling the slide stop where it touches the plunger pin could stop it from ever happening at all.
(2) When firing Winchester SXTs from the bench, one of the live rounds came out of the magazine so far above the chamber it actually launched itself out of the gun and the next lower round in the magazine fed itself into the chamber instead. Which leaves you, when the gun was empty, out of five rounds with four holes in the target and one live cartridge laying on the ground. Again, we’ve seen this sort of thing happen before, but only once, years ago with a Grizzly Win-Mag chambered for the .44 Magnum revolver cartridge.
For reasons already discussed, during the accuracy portion of testing we did not use the magazines supplied with the gun. To provide a fair reliability assessment, obviously we needed to test the LTP II with the supplied magazines. Thus, we fired the gun with its 10-round magazines both during the break-in period and after its post break-in cleaning and lubrication. It was during the latter period that we experienced the final malfunction with the LTP II:
(3) A combination failure to eject combined with a double feed: empty shell casing caught in the ejection port, live round partially into the chamber, another live round trying to come up out of the magazine behind it. Another bad malfunction, this one requiring the complicated and time consuming “extended malfunction clearance drill” to rectify it.
The Lawman Match, like the other two guns tested here, was a full-sized, all-steel Government Model-pattern 1911 with 5-inch barrel. On this series, barrels are from Nowlin Custom Manufacturing (the company making such accurate 1911 barrels the FBI specified the Nowlin product by name when the agency wanted a 1911).
A bit about our “5-inch” barrel comment: The Nowlin barrel in this gun protrudes from the barrel bushing more than your typical 1911. Classic barrel length for a “5-inch” Government Model is actually 5.025-inch. Nowlin barrels are 0.1-inch longer at 5.125-inch. Years ago when John Nowlin, Sr. first started producing 1911 barrels, he decided to make this small change to give Nowlin barrels a distinctive appearance.
These guns are built on slides and frames made by Lone Star but assembled by Nowlin. The $1,595 price tag makes the Lawman Match a medium-priced gun by custom 1911 standards. The gun possesses all the amenities we expect these days on a 1911: beveled mag well, extended “speed safety” (single-sided in this case), long match trigger, semi-extended but still low-profile magazine release button, beavertail grip safety, Commander hammer, lowered and flared ejection port. The grips were black rubber, secured with hex-head grip screws. Magazine funnels were offered as an option for $100 more. Ambi safety levers cost an additional $27.50.
Lone Star, unlike Kimber or Wilson, does not have a cool name for the polymer finish applied to its guns. All a visit to the company’s website and even a phone call to Lone Star could elicit was the description “bake-on polymer finish.” It’s offered in a choice of various colors.
This particular Lawman Match featured a two-tone treatment with the slide, sights, hammer, trigger, grips, grip screws and mainspring housing all-black. The frame, slide stop, thumb safety and grip safety were OD green. This black and OD paint job was something many shooters find particularly attractive.
This was a well-fitted 1911. Pressing on the barrel hood through the ejection port with the gun in battery revealed absolutely no movement. Checking the slide-to-frame fit revealed no movement up-and-down or from side-to-side. Tried to move the front of the barrel around with the gun in battery. No dice. But the slide action was still nice and smooth, with no binding, roughness or stiffness at all.
Of significant note, the Lawman Match’s beavertail grip safety seems to have been “sensitized” by Nowlin. In other words, although still fully functional, it will disengage with very little inward movement. Thus, it works well even for people using the straight-thumbs grip favored by most serious 1911 shooters. The grip safety will likewise disengage, allowing the gun to fire every time, when held loosely, even one-hand only with the “weak” hand.
Typically, the Lawman Match was offered with 3-white-dot adjustable sights. However, the Gun Tests sample piece featured an available option, MMC’s excellent adjustable sight system designed by Ashley Emerson. On the MMC adjustables, the rear sight blade was protected inside a U-shaped cradle of metal that looks like a miniaturized, streamlined version of the protective “wings” Smith & Wesson used to put on its adjustable sighted autos. These sights featured the best sight picture of any of our test guns, the front blade a narrow 0.110-inch post, the rear notch 0.125-in. wide, resulting in a much more visible sight picture than the 0.125-inch front/rear combo usually found on so-called “high visibility combat sights.” Both front and rear blades were plain black.
Every gun tested for this article had a different sort of recoil spring guide rod. On the Lawman Match it’s the full-length two-piece variety that disassembles with a hex wrench. The Lawman Match extractor was of the traditional internal design.
The trigger itself was of the “long” type, made of carbon fiber, with an overtravel stop. The trigger pull itself broke at 3.5 crisp pounds, according to an NRA weight set. The overtravel stop had been well-adjusted.
The frontstrap was checkered at 30 lpi. The flat mainspring housing was likewise checkered, but at 20 lpi. Slide cocking serrations were present front and rear.
Only one 8-round magazine was supplied with this gun, at variance to most gun companies’ policy of supplying any new auto pistol with two magazines. The magazine was blued carbon steel with a stainless follower and black composite baseplate, made by ACT-Mag of Italy.
The MMC adjustable sights were easily and swiftly brought to point of impact/point of aim. Best accuracy was a tight 0.9-inch group with the Black Hills 200-grain lead semi-wadcutters; worst accuracy with this ammo was 2.1-inch (coincidentally, the same “worst” measurement this ammo printed from the Kimber LTP II). The Federal 230-grain Hydra-Shoks were very consistent. Best group was 1.25 inches, and worst was only slightly larger at 1.5 inches. Speer’s Gold Dots were mediocre at 1.6 inches for a best group, 2.7 inches for the worst. Finally, likewise mediocre were the 2.2-inch best group and 2.5-inch worst with Winchester 230-grain SXTs. To summarize, with ammo it favored, accuracy from the Lawman Match varied from excellent to acceptable.
Break-in and bench rest testing for this gun entailed firing 211 rounds of ammo. Out-of-the-box, the Lawman Match had a very smooth slide action, so the 500 rounds plus break-in period we gave the Kimber LTP II was not deemed necessary.
Gun Tests staff members, when initially examining the Lone Star Lawman Match, noticed its disassembly notch in the slide was far larger, deeper and sharper edged at each corner than we’ve ever before seen on a 1911. It almost looks like a little semi-circular tunnel. When pulling the slide to the rear with an empty magazine in the gun, it’s actually possible to lock the slide to the rear on the disassembly notch before it ever reaches the slide stop notch. At first we assumed this “feature” to be weird but unimportant. Experience firing the gun revealed otherwise.
While firing from the bench, we experienced a couple of failures of the action to fully close on the next cartridge. Finally, while shooting the gun freehand during the formal reliability portion of testing, after firing the last round in the gun, the slide came back partially, the empty shell casing ejected, but the slide stop popped up into the disassembly notch, holding the slide partially to the rear on an empty magazine. This pinned the magazine in the gun; pulling it out of the mag well required a fair amount of pressure, at which point the slide snapped forward on an empty chamber. This does not make for the fastest reload in the world, and was the sort of thing that can get you killed, in our view.
“CQB” stands for Close Quarters Battle, and we’ve tested samples of this gun previously, in April 2000 and July 2002. We liked the CQB, though an Italian-made Valtro performed as well as the Wilson for less money. However, there seem to be long waits for deliveries of Valtros, and CQBs are readily available.
This gun was intended by Wilson as a personal defense piece. The CQB offers all the custom amenities found on the other guns in this article: a skeletonized aluminum long match trigger, extended “speed” safety, semi-extended magazine release button, and lugged beavertail grip safety mated to a Commander style rowel hammer were all present and accounted for. The thumb safety was single-sided. There was no mag funnel, simply a beveled mag well.
Unlike the other guns tested, which possess full-length recoil spring guide rods and the pierced plug necessary with that system, the CQB features the traditional solid plug and short guide rod. This simplifies field-stripping since the flat surface of the solid plug allows you to depress it with bare fingers while turning the barrel bushing. By contrast, depressing a sharp-edged pierced plug requires using a bushing wrench or the edge of a magazine. Inside the CQB, in the area of the recoil spring guide rod, we find the rod was not drilled out and hollow along its length, as was typical on a 1911, but rather a solid steel part.
The CQB was finished in a polymer, spray-on, bake-on material named, by Wilson Combat, Armor-Tuff. This finish was matte black and quite attractive. In the staff’s experience, Armor-Tuff was much more wear resistant than bluing, though not in the class with hard chrome, of course. Many serious gun carriers prefer an all-black gun over the “white” chrome treatment. Armor-Tuff will wear eventually, but while it lasts — which in our experience was quite awhile — it stays flat black and provides the gun considerable rust resistance. Unlike the Kimber or Lone Star guns, there’s no attempt at a two-tone effect on the CQB. Everything on the gun, with the exception of the checkered wooden grip panels inset with Wilson Combat medallions and the “silver” stainless steel barrel, was all-black and businesslike. Even the aluminum trigger has been Armor-Tuffed black.
As with all our test guns, metalwork on the CQB was superior. As you would expect from a 1911 produced by a custom house of Wilson’s reputation, slide-to-barrel-to-frame fit revealed no movement at all when the action was closed.
The CQB’s front sight was a smooth ramp installed in a cross-dovetail cut. The blade was 0.129-inch wide and fitted with a green tritium insert from Trijicon. For a rear sight, on a carry/combat gun many people prefer a fixed unit over adjustables, and this was what the CQB provides. The shape of the rear blade, as viewed from the rear, rather than a conventional straight-top configuration features a trapezoidal shape Wilson calls the Combat Pyramid, the idea being that having the sides of the rear sight cut away at an angle will allow someone in a threat situation to see more of the downrange area than having their vision blocked by a wide, conventional, flat-topped rear sight.
The rear sight notch was the traditional 0.125-inch-wide version. Combined with the fat front sight necessary to contain a tritium insert, this leads to a sight picture somewhat cramped for light on either side of the front blade. The fact these sights had the shallowest rear notch of any gun tested at 0.078 inch didn’t help matters. While the front sight’s tritium element was light green, a color very visible to the human eye in dim light, the two rear elements, one on each side of the rear notch, were yellow. Some people have complained that, on guns fitted with night sights when the front and rear dots were all green, they have trouble figuring out which dot was the front, which can lead to aligning the front dot to one side of the rear two dots, thus widely missing the target. To solve this problem, Wilson makes the front and rear dots two different colors.
The CQB’s extractor was the traditional pattern. Regarding the lack of a firing pin lock, Gun Tests staffers believe Bill Wilson would rather fling himself from a tall building than clutter up a Wilson Combat 1911 with a firing pin lock, a system viewed by most serious students of the design as unnecessary and extraneous.
According to our NRA weight set, the CQB’s trigger broke at 4 pounds even. This was slightly heavier than the 3.5 pounds quoted in Wilson literature though still certainly a reasonable pull weight. The overtravel stop, as you’d expect, was well-adjusted.
The CQB’s frontstrap and mainspring housing both feature 30-lpi checkering of the quality you’d expect from a top-of-the-line 1911. Likewise, we noted 30-lpi checkering on the semi-extended magazine-release button. As with most 1911s these days, the slide has been serrated with cocking grooves front and rear. The slide stop features the traditional horizontal striations. The CQB comes complete with two Wilson-Rogers 8-round .45 magazines.
As far as the smoothness of controls, we found nothing to comment on here, unless you like talking about perfection. Movement of all parts was crisp and positive. Everything did exactly what it was supposed to do, out-of-the-box.
Like the Lone Star Lawman Match, the Wilson CQB’s grip safety appears to have been sensitized. It will disengage even when firing the gun with a straight-thumbs IPSC grip, two-handed, strong hand only or weak hand only.
Accuracy with the Wilson gun was superior, though the gun made us work for it. We found the Combat Pyramid sights, providing only a small area of horizontal sight top on either side of the rear notch, required much more effort to align precisely than with a standard, flat-top rear sight.
Most accurate ammo shot from the CQB was the Black Hills lead semi-wadcutters with a nice sub-1-inch group. Largest with this ammo was 1.2 inches. Speer Gold Dots also came in under an inch at 0.9-inch. Largest group with this ammo was also 1.2 inches. Next in accuracy preference were Federal Hydra-Shoks with a best effort of 1.2 inches and a worst of 1.75 inches. The Winchester SXTs gave a best group of 1.9 inches, the worst a mediocre 2.1 inches.
Unfortunately, the fixed sights proved poorly regulated for 230-grain ammo. All groups fired with this bullet weight hit 1 inch to the left and 3 inches high at 50 feet. The lighter Black Hills 200-grain LSWCs, in addition to being the most accurate ammo in the CQB, were also best for regulation; they were only 0.5 inch left and 2 inches high. Obviously, the windage discrepancy could be rectified by tapping the CQB’s rear sight to the right in its dovetail. The elevation error was more problematic. The only option was to replace the front sight.
To test the gun’s reliability, we shot 310 rounds in the initial break-in and bench-resting, after which it was field stripped, cleaned and lubricated. While test-firing this gun (freestyle during the break-in period, from the bench, and freestyle during post-cleaning/lubrication testing), we experienced repeated malfunctions. The first of these, with Black Hills lead semi-wadcutters, was what pistolsmiths call a 45-degree nose-up jam, which means the round was partially into the chamber, held there at approximately a 45-degree angle, but the rim won’t slide up and under the extractor. A tap on the magazine floorplate caused the action to snap shut. All other malfunctions were of a different type, the slide stopping a fraction of an inch out of battery.
When we see these problems in a 1911, Gun Tests staffers instantly think, “Bad extractor.” Pulling the extractor out, we noted where the cartridge casing rim was supposed to slide up, there should be a rounded-off area. Instead, only a slight bevel prevents us from describing this shape as square. Whoever installed this extractor at Wilson’s did not bevel the part as they should, and that sharp edge was digging into brass and preventing the cartridge casing from sliding up into place.
We think that with five minutes of attention to the extractor with a file, you’d have a great gun.
Gun Tests Recommends
Kimber LTP II .45 ACP, $2,036. Don’t Buy. The Kimber LTP II was very accurate with ammo it liked, and trigger pulls were shockingly nice for a factory 1911. The Bo-Mar–like sights were easily adjusted, and held their adjustment. Other than a problem with the off-side safety lever failing to disengage — which cured itself with use — the controls operated smoothly. Unfortunately, because our test piece was unreliable, we can’t recommend it.
Lone Star Lawman Match .45 ACP, $1,595. Don’t Buy. The overall workmanship and trigger pulls of this gun were superior. Accuracy with favored ammo was great. The MMC adjustable sights with which our sample gun was adorned were exceptionally nice, by far the best of any gun tested. Unfortunately, this gun’s reliability was lacking during our test. The cause, we believe, was the overly large disassembly notch. It was not easily rectifiable. Were Lone Star to supply Nowlin, one of the top 1911 pistolsmithing houses in the country, with slides that didn’t have their own built-in Achilles heel, we were sure Nowlin could build them a great, 100 percent reliable 1911 — but this isn’t it.
Wilson CQB, $1,895. Conditional Buy. The CQB was very accurate with favored ammo, and the overall level of fit and finish was superior. Trigger pulls on the CQB were heavier than advertised, though still reasonable. The fixed sights were poorly regulated for elevation. Though we experienced numerous malfunctions while testing this piece, these were traced to an extractor that had not been beveled at all; the gun should never have left the Wilson shop in this condition. However, Gun Tests still gives the CQB a recommendation of Conditional Buy only because its problems were so easily diagnosed and rectifiable. A higher front sight to bring groups down to point of aim, five minutes attention to the extractor with a file, and you’d have a great gun.