RF comes off the line at Red’s and strikes-up a conversation. When he finds out I’m a 1911 guy he pulls out a Roberts Defense Super Grade Pro from a nondescript case. “It’s an early production gun,” RF says. “The sights fell off. They replaced them with these.” Heinie Straight Eights. My favorite sights in the world. RF asks if I wouldn’t mind testing the box-fresh custom 1911 for TTAG. Let me check my schedule . . . yup. I can make room. But is there room in the market for yet another custom 1911 maker? Well, if it’s a good one . . .
The Roberts Defense Super Grade isn’t going to muscle its way into the market on looks alone. Not that there’s anything wrong with its appearance. The Super Grade’s satin stainless steel’s warm sheen gives the gun a subtle, business-like look. Paired with black cherry grips and classic 1911 cues, the Super Grade is a modern take on a timeless design. Which, of course, it is. Like a lot of high-end 1911s.
Roberts Defense’s motto is “never compromise.” If hand-fitting means never having to say never mind, they’re living up to their creed. The Super Grade’s clearly benefitted from a lot of hands-on care and attention. The frame-to-slide fit is exceptional, with no hang-ups and no rattle. None. Racking the Super Grade’s slide isn’t like manipulating a greased lightning Cabot (what is?) but the 1911’s action is at least as smooth as a Wilson Combat custom.
Like most 1911 guys, I worry about tight-fitting guns; a John Moses Browning meisterwerk with tiny tolerances can foretell future function failures. The barrel bushing was so tight on Robert’s blaster I couldn’t remove it without a bushing wrench. Like a town bicycle, it will loosen up over time. The grip safety is blended very well to the frame, but it isn’t as well-sorted as it is on a higher-priced custom gun – yes there are many – like an Ed Brown. With a price of “just” $1649.00 I’m willing to let it go.
Roberts Defense fashioned the Super Grade Pro’s hammer and sear from D7 tool steel. According to diehlsteel.com, that’s a “high carbon high chromium die steel with added carbon and vanadium for abrasion resisting qualities. Useful for applications involving extreme abrasive wear.” Roberts says the metal maintains its shape and angles much better than other steels.
The trigger feels like a gunsmith-tuned go pedal, though it’s got a lot of wiggle inside the frame. The trigger pull is as clean as an airline pilot’s kitchen and as sharp as Saville Row suit. It has the perfect amount of take-up leading to to a solid wall, followed by a crisp break. If your sights are moving when you fire the Super Grade, it’s all you.
Ah yes, Heinie Straight Eight night sights. I know that sight choice is a matter of personal preference; a lot of people aren’t fans of the way the stacked-dots sights line-up on target. Before you dismiss them, try them. They’re instinctive and, as I said, fast. Even better, unlike the Kensights RF tested on the gun when they first shipped it, these didn’t fall off.
Perhaps this is a good time to mention that all Roberts Defense guns come with a transferable lifetime warranty. If your third-hand Roberts Defense has feeding problems or the sights come loose – perish the thought – you can send it in for free warranty work. As customers of high-end 1911s will attest, personal and prompt service is one of the major benefits of working with a small gunmaker; they’re willing to take responsibility for any and all issues and fix the problems fast.
The Roberts Defense Super Grade comes equipped from the factory with VZ Grips. Combined with the sharp checkering on the front strap and the mainspring housing, the result is as aggressive as an abused Rottweiler. My girlfriend yelped just from picking up the gun (unloaded, safe direction). Maybe I’m a masochist, but I like the texture. You know the gun isn’t going to move in your hand. At all. [ED: If ever.]
The first thing I look for in any gun I shoot: reliability. The Robert Defense Super Grade has it in spades. RF ran 250 rounds of Winchester White Box RF through the gun (“just warming it up, Wes”) sans problem. I fed it another 500 rounds. In addition to standard 230 gr. ball, I shot three popular self-defense rounds: Hornady TAP FPD 230 +P, Federal Hydrashok 230, and my personal favorite Federal HST 230 +P. All of these loads fed through the pistol without the slightest hiccup. There were no malfunctions whatsoever.
The pistol is ridiculously accurate. It shot so well I had to compare it side-by-side with a Les Baer Thunder Ranch Special with a 1.5 inch guarantee (a gun that will be getting it’s own review sometime soon). The Les Baer was slightly more accurate, but that could be down to user familiarity (i.e. it’s my gun). Considering the Baer’s $800 premium over Roberts Defense, that’ll do.
A lot of TTAG readers balk at paying a grand-and-a-half for a gun. Any gun – never mind a 1911. Especially when they can find perfectly serviceable 1911 for $800 to $1000. But the Roberts Defense Super Grade has “it”: the high-quality hand-fit feel and rock-solid performance buyers expect from guns that sell for $2k and up. The company is fast, friendly and passionate about their product, willing to stand behind their gun for as long as ye shall live. And beyond.
The only potential problem: the Super Grade Pro’s extremely aggressive checkering and grips. As they say about strange sexual practices, if you don’t understand it, it’s not for you. But if you’re willing to suffer a bit of pain for a lot of gain – shooting a proverbial tack-driver – you can’t do any better at the price. And maybe even higher.
Caliber: .45 ACP
Barrel Length: 5”
Price: $1549 MSRP
Ratings (out of five stars):
Style * * * * *
If you’re looking for a custom 1911 that screams CUSTOM 1911, this isn’t it. A classic gun with a modern look.
Ergonomics * * *
Like giving a porcupine shiatsu.
Reliability * * * * *
Hollow points not a problem. Not a single hang-up.
Customizable * * * * *
It’s a 1911. Apart from a GLOCK there is nothing more customizable. But why would you?
Carry * * *
It’s a big old gun, but I conceal a full size 1911 every day without issue.
Overall * * * * *
Value-priced at $1649? Yup. With the Super Grade Pro, Roberts Defense is on its way to gaining favored status in the custom 1911 club.