According to the good folks over at Wilson Combat, here are ten factors you should consider when shopping for a high-end (i.e., expensive) 1911. The check list is biased towards their own products (d’uh). But it’s not a bad guide for those of us who like to settle for the best . . .
1) Overall parts quality. Is the frame or slide a casting or machined from a forging or billet? Is the slide stop injection molded, a casting or machined from billet? Are any of the internal action parts Metal injection molded (MIM) or castings instead of properly machined from billet steel? Are all of the parts made in the USA? Are quality magazines supplied with the pistol?
2) Clean machining and cosmetic details. Is your checkering straight without overruns? Are your slide serrations clean and straight? Are logos properly applied and machine cuts free of chatter? Is the finish applied evenly and smoothly?
3) Quality Control and Inspection. Was your new pistol test-fired? Does it have a target verifying point of aim?
4) Trigger Action. Is the trigger fitted with a minimum of up and down play and overtravel. Does the sear break crisply without excessive creep or perceptible sear movement?
5) Feedramp. Does the pistol have a smooth, deep frame feedramp that measures a minimum of .350” deep from the top of the frame rails. This is essential for reliable feeding of hollowpoint ammunition.
6) Bowtie cut. Does the frame have the bowtie cut? Where the barrel lugs impact the frame there should be a round cut to allow the top of the barrel feet to impact the frame “bowtie”. This is essential for a 1911 that will last many thousands of rounds.
7) Barrel/frame gap. Your barrel feedramp should sit off the frame ramp with a slight gap present. This allows the round to feed smoothly and is essential for feeding hollowpoint ammunition.
8) Snug slide to frame fit. A little play is essential for high-round count reliability, but your slide/frame fit should be smooth and snug yet easy to retract. Smooth is the key.
9) Crisp operation of the safety parts. Your thumb safety should snap on and off crisply-not mushy or too soft or stiff. Your grip safety should be easy to disengage in a high-hold firing grip.
10) Seamless blending of all parts. Is there enough carry bevel performed so you new pistol won’t tear up your holster or hands at the range? Pay special attention to the front of the magwell, hammer, mainspring housing and front/rear of slide.