August 2014

Two 1911s Under the Radar: Ithaca Versus Roberts Defense

There are many self-defense pistols out there, and more seem to be available every day. Here we look at two lesser-known Government Models that bring a lot to the table.

Two 1911s Under the Radar: Ithaca Versus Roberts Defense

If you have between $1500 and $2000 to put into a good 45 auto, which one will you get? There are many candidates, and choosing between them is often more a test of which brand name sounds the best — Wilson, Baer, Nighthawk, Guncrafter to name just a few — rather than which gun is the best for an individual shooter. Frankly, guns in this price range are very hard to separate because they’re all pretty darned good.

For this test, we looked at two names that aren’t top of mind, even though one of them has a historical provenance that is hard to match. The test guns were full-size 1911s in 45 ACP, one being the Ithaca Gun Co. M1911-N #1911-C45G10 45 ACP, $1799. Between 1942 and 1945, Ithaca Gun Company made 382,000 of the 45-caliber Model 1911-A1 pistols for the military, and according to company documents, Ithaca received a “certificate of appreciation” from the federal government for improving a manufacturing procedure for the triggers. The original Ithaca Gun Company was located in Ithaca, New York, and was probably best known for its M37 shotgun. When Ithaca restarted several years ago in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, new management invested in CNC machining to make its older guns cost-competitive with more modern designs. Those techniques were also applied to a very modern pistol product pitched as a semi-custom 1911 for carry or duty use. The Ithaca comes in a hard plastic case with foam inserts and a 1-year limited warranty.

Our second pistol was a Roberts Defense Super Grade Pro 45 ACP, $1549, made by the firm in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Unlike Ithaca, which makes just two full-size pistol variants, Roberts makes six pistols in the Super Grade line alone (all $1549), including our full-size two-tone test gun, a full-size stainless model, two 4.25-inch barrel Custom models, and two of the firm’s Carry models with 3.5-inch barrels. The company’s Operator lineup includes four pistols (all $1649) and the Recon line has three versions (all $1499). Roberts Defense was founded in 2011, and the company says each firearm is hand-built using 100% American-made components. Each firearm comes in a tactical soft case with an accompanying gun lock. Impressively, Roberts Defense offers a lifetime transferable warranty.

Rob Unger, president of Roberts Defense said, “All of our parts are hand-fitted with the utmost attention to detail. We purposely build a limited amount of firearms to fit and function flawlessly, while never compromising, and making our high-quality product available at a reasonable price.”

We shot the guns for accuracy and function, and evaluated them for more than a year in self-defense training and general use. These were both outstanding pistols, yet we found some anomalies that might help you pick and choose.

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