If you read part one of this review, you know that the good folks at Cabot Guns made good and quick-like on their promise to return the Cabot Black Diamond that I sent back to them. To recap: pretty gun, lots of first-round failures to feed. But I was more than happy to try it out again. There are a lot of great guns that won’t run well out of the box, they take 500 rounds or so. That’s not limited to 1911s, either. It’s true of a lot of very tight, very accurate guns . . .
Some companies take this to the extreme. My Les Baers have all been the most accurate guns I’ve owned. My starter Les Baer Premier will shoot smaller groups than any Wilson Combat or Ed Brown I ever owned or ran it against…for about 50 rounds. Then I had to lube it up again to get it to run at all. Les Baer shooters tell me that will go away after a few thousand more rounds — like about 7,000 more. Negative Ghost Rider, the pattern is full.
As Cabot’s guns are all super precision-made and all, I convinced myself that this gun was like the Les Baers. Which, by the way, if that’s true, I would appreciate it if the manufacturer would send me the gun after they’ve put the required number of break-in rounds through it. But if it means putting a few hundred rounds through the Black Diamond, well, I’ve got rounds, I got the Cabot, and I’m drowning in RemOil.
I picked the returned gun up and opened the box. Cabot cleaned it up nicely after I sent it back to them and I was once again surprised at just how good this gun looked, and I was stoked to get it out to the range. As they suggested that I not use the CORBON Performance Match ammunition that I used last time, I used Winchester white box 230gr FMJ for this test. It’s filthy ammo, but it’s my preferred range brass and I don’t think there is a more ubiquitous round out there.
As an aside, unless it was issued to me, it is a very rare thing for me to give a gun a second try. There are just too many great guns out there to waste my time. But man, this guns is pretty. And when it ran, it ran fast and returned to the target quickly. So…pretty, fast, black, and it feels real good in my hands. Oh…right. That’s why I’m giving it another try. I think we might have dated in college.
To the range!
I loaded up the supplied Cabot magazine, and let the slide come forward. And it did. Fully, right into battery. Success! I told you we should be together.
Six rounds. The gun made it six rounds until the first failure to feed.
After that, it was a rare thing to go more than two magazine without a failure to feed. RemOil did not fix the problem. A bore snake did not fix the problem. Q-tips did not fix the problem. I tried the Winchester white box as well as the CORBON again, along with some American Eagle 230gr FMJs, Federal Hydra Shock, and some hand loads. No factory round made it through two magazines without a first-round failure to feed or without fully returning to battery.
The only thing that made it without a failure were hand loaded 200gr Hornady XTP rounds loaded with seven grains of Clays Universal with a C.O.L. of 1.23. The gun ran very well like this and I brought the groups down to an average group size of 1.75″ with a best group of 1.25″.
After that, my opinion of the pistol remained the same.
Gorgeous. Unreliable. (Yeah, we must have dated.)
I gave the gun back to Mr. Farago and called it a day. I have to say, I was pretty disappointed. I was looking forward to ordering one and had already picked out some Desert Ironwood grips and Heine Straight 8’s for it. But a 1911 that won’t run most ammunition isn’t for me.
Then a conversation with Cabot about the ammunition they try and what they like got me thinking. I called Farago back and asked if I could have yet another try at the gun. I went to my reloading bench and took all those same factory FMJ bullets and seated them to 1.23. I had a lot of hypotheses about why this would work. My hypotheses made sense.
And they were all wrong. Round three had similar results. When the gun ran, it ran great. The rounds went where I wanted them to go, and the gun timed itself well. The front site returned to the target just before I wanted to squeeze off another round, and landed right there, eager and ready for more.
Except when it didn’t. And it didn’t a lot.
Specifications: Cabot Guns Black Diamond
Barrel: 5-inch national match grade fitted barrel
Steel: USA 4140 sourced billet, proprietary hardening, hand polished
Finish: Black blued
Safety: Right hand thumb, optional abidextrous
Sights: Low mount adjustable rear two-dot tritium, Rozic front blind sight with tritium dot
Ratings (out of five stars):
Style * * * * *
The finish is perfect. Photos don’t do it justice. The lines are flawless. The flattened and serrated slide is executed beautifully and it actually has style. This isn’t just a shiny Colt clone.
Ergonomics * * * * 1/2
This is where JMB’s design shines. In Cabot’s version, the gun points well, the trigger well is a reasonable size, and the magazine release is right where it should be without being giant or in the way. The shooting hand rides nice and high on the grip, without pain or pinch during recoil. I took half a star off because I like a wider safety. But unless I am engaging it, my thumb never leaves the top of the safety, so that’s probably a personal preference. The trigger is crisp, and just light enough for a carry gun. And I carry I 1911 partially because they conceal so easily. Even this full-size Government hides in an El Paso Saddlery IWB holster under just a T-shirt.
Accuracy * * * *
With hand loads, this gun is plenty accurate, even at this price point. But with most factory loads I’d cut a star off. I’d like to see it printing 1.25 with quality factory ammo.
Overall * * *
An exceptionally beautiful piece of craftsmanship that, sadly, wouldn’t run reliably.
After reading the review, Cabot president Rob Bianchin sends the following:
The Black Diamond is constructed to extreme tolerances equal to a fraction of a human hair. It’s a precision instrument and quality ammo is recommended for reliability and performance. The photo below compares the Corbon used in the TTAG review with some other brands. The bullets in the Corbon are seated very deep into the casing and we have historically seen dimensional variation outside the SAAMI standards with the Winchester white box. Neither ammo is recommended. Using low tolerance ammo in a high tolerance pistol is akin to using low quality fuel in a Ferrari. The Black Diamond 1911 employed in the TTAG review was tested with a mix of good quality ammo such as ASYM Precision Ammunition 185 JHP, Hornady 230 FMJ and Federal 230 JHP and did not skip a beat. The pistol was then further tested with these along with TUL, Armscor, Magtech and Wolf and the performance was flawless. Everyone should know and trust your ammo as much as your gun.
Cabot does take TTAGs results to heart and and will consider these results in particular with respect to our new S-Class line which will be announced shortly. The S-Class is priced in the $3800 range and may be subjected to many more brands of ammo, both good and poor. For the shooter looking for a precision gun made from the ground-up at a favorable price, the S-Class is the choice. For those seeking the ultimate precision built pistol, the Cabot Black Diamond and other Collector grade C-Class Cabot pistols will work reliably with recommended ammo. We guarantee it.
1/29/15 update from Rob Bianchin:
Cabot prides itself in making the finest pistols money can buy. No one is perfect but we do strive for perfection but once a while a ghost appears such as feed issue experienced by the reviewer of the Black Diamond. The issue was unexpected as prior to sending the gun to TTAG, the Black Diamond was shot by two individuals using five types of ammunition and it ran flawlessly. Cabot customers know our guns are both reliable and accurate. Just this week – January 27, 2015 -I received the following email from a client who works in a tactical capacity received his Cabot 1911 a few months ago.
“I just wanted to touch bases with you to say just how much I have loved my 1911 Southpaw. The guys on my team always fawn over it and I’ve actually been lectured that it is “too beautiful to shoot, let alone to carry everyday”. But carry it and shoot it I do! It’s a true nail-driver. It is also the first 1911 I have ever owned that will cycle any .45 ACP ammo. I know this because one day I tried 16 different brands, loads and bullet configurations. Including this “test” and the more than 2,500+ rds I’ve fired through it, I have yet to experience a stoppage (not counting training stoppages using dummy rounds). When I’m not on the range I have it loaded with jacketed hollow points per department policy. I’m very proud of my Cabot pistol and its unparalleled accuracy makes me confident that should the need arise, I can take that high risk shot with confidence. This pistol just gets better each time I shoot it…which is at least weekly.” Maj. Jon Irelan
Since the return of the Black Diamond tested by TTAG we made little changes to CGXPUT122. They consisted of adjusting (reducing) extractor tension a couple of ounces, repolished the breach face & feed ramp and increased the radius size on the barrel and frame to allow for lower tolerance ammo. We shot 300 rounds over the past weekend and did have two first round magazine related failure to feeds. The magazine in question was a flush bottom magazine that fits eight rounds but has spring pressure suited to 7 rounds. When the magazine was reviewed it had a full length spring and we switched it for one that was one wrap short with reduced spring pressure suited to 8 rounds and it worked fine. Standard 8 round non-flush bottom magazines do not have this issue. On Monday an additional 150 rounds were shot through a decelerator and had one failure to feed when it rubbed the slide against the rubber boot when shooting (testers’ fault). Later on Monday the gun was shot again again outdoors and we shot 28 magazines (228 rounds) without one failure.
The was the ammo that was used outside consisted of:
Corbon FMJ…4, 8 round magazines no failures
Wolf FMJ…4, 8 round magazines, no failures
Remington JHP…4, 8 round magazines, no failures
Armscor FMJ…4, 8 round magazines, no failures
Magtech FMJ…4, 8 round magazines, no failures
Hornady JHP…2, 8 round magazines & 1, 4 round magazine, no failures
PUT Reloads SWC…6, 8 round magazines, no failures
We will be shooting it again later today.
We are inviting TTAG to visit and tour the manufacturing facility where the Black Diamond was constructed to see first hand the quality and precision which characterizes each Cabot pistol.