Companies both big and small have been making guns in the Philipines, primarily for export, for nearly 100 years now. Probably the best known of these brands is Armscor, producer of the Rock Island Armory brand of pistols. There are likely as many as 200,000 guns produced by the Pacific Rim archipelago under an innumerable number of brands.

Based in Manila, Metro Arms is a relative newcomer, at least compared to Armscor, but has quickly grown into one of the major Filipino producers, turning out 1911-style handguns. Their brands imported into the U.S. include the Firestorm and American Classic lines. They only seem to have been selling their budget-priced 1911s here in the U.S. for the last six years, and I’d never fired one of their guns prior to this review.

Taking the gun out of the quality plastic case it came in, I was pleasantly surprised. The American Classic II looks far more impressive than a $450 gun.

Reminiscent of the classic GI 1911, the finish appears to be hot dip bluing. Although hot salt dipping is both common and traditional, there are certainly wide degrees of quality in the execution of the process. The bluing on the American Classic is well done, even and black throughout the gun.

The polishing, a skilled craft in and of itself, is both even and uneven. That’s because there are clearly two different sets of polishes on our test gun. It’s clear that someone polished up the flat areas fairly well, applying a not quite mirror shine. All of the rounded areas, however, didn’t receive this treatment.

Throughout the slide and the frame, the flats are shiny and the rounded spots are dull. The finish is also dull inside the cuts, such as in the GI-style cocking serrations on both the front and rear of the slide. Considering the price tag of the gun, that’s actually better than I’d expect. Something has to give on a budget-priced 1911, and hand polishing of the externals is probably the best place to cut those corners.

The grips themselves are a variety of hardwood I can’t identify, with fish scales cut into them, along with the Metro Arms logo. Taking the grips off and looking at the grain, I think it would have made a more attractive grip to leave them unadorned. As they are, they’re perfectly serviceable.

The grips are a little on the thick side, with no thumb cut-out for the magazine release, so even with my size large mitts, I had to shift my grip to hit the knurled release.

The ACII’s hammer is an odd aesthetic choice. Rather than sticking with a traditional skeletonized hammer, they’ve cut what appears to me a Metro Arms logo into it. If the stars on a Cabot trigger upset you, this might just going to drive you crazy. On an otherwise minimally adorned gun, this kind of embellishment doesn’t really belong. The slide is engraved with the Metro Arms logo behind the rear cocking serrations, and the American Classic II script is discreetly cut into the left side of the slide.

The slide lock/release is too long and oversized. I get the value of an extended slide release to aid in the speed of bringing the gun back into battery, but this one is so long that with my thumb resting on the extended thumb safety, I’m also depressing the slide stop. People with smaller hands won’t have this problem, though they may have a problem with the width of the scales.

The slide lock presses up a little too much, coming into contact with the hollow in the slide for the take down pin. Pulling the slide  back slowly, the gun wants to lock there, instead of farther forward on the slide where it’s actually cut for the slide lock. Simply shaking the gun a bit will bring the slide back forward, but it was something I thought I’d have to keep an eye on throughout the review.

Other than the slide lock, all of that is really pretty small stuff. This is, overall, an attractive pistol, that feels good in the hand. The front strap is smooth, but the flat mainspring housing is grooved. Most of the controls are quality and well laid out.

The extended beavertail safety is beveled into the frame, but is slightly inset. That inset is enough to leave a bit of an edge, but not enough to make shooting painful or even uncomfortable. It also never failed to release, even with a high one-handed grip on the gun.

The metal trigger is cut with the frequently seen three holes, and is well textured. I’ve grown to appreciate a polished trigger face for my revolvers, but I’m still debating weather or not I like textured triggers on my 1911s. Speaking of the trigger, there is a bit of pre-travel, followed by a small amount of creep, and then a hard break. My EDC 1911 has a 2.5 lb trigger, and the other 1911s I’ve been shooting fall around the 3.5 lb weight. This one measured in at 5 lbs 4 oz, a bit on the heavy side, but not enough to pull you off sight after a little practice.

The one-piece forged barrel appears well made and nicely polished. The barrel-to-bushing fit isn’t bad at all. Really, the gun locks nice and tight, far better than I would have expected at its price point.

There are no gross tool marks anywhere on the gun, meaning that it is being made with new, or at least not worn out tooling, and some real attention to quality control. I’ve seen more expensive guns that were worse on the interior than the American Classic II. Even more surprising was the short guide rod and the correctly tuned extractor. There’s no firing pin safety, a solution to a problem that doesn’t really exist. Of course, if you drop your American Classic II from a height of greater than four stories — and it lands just right — there is a theoretical chance of a negligent discharge.

After being impressed with the quality of the internals, I was expecting good things when I got to the range, so I sprayed Rem Oil throughout the gun and headed to The Range at Austin.

I was disappointed the second I released the slide on a freshly loaded magazine. Using the factory supplied eight-round magazine filled with Cap Arms 230gr FMJs in a lubed gun, I had a first-round failure to feed. The slide came forward and closed about 80% of the way, requiring a hard slap to the back of the slide to get it to go into battery.

After that, all eight rounds fired just fine and the bolt locked open on the empty mag. I then inserted the same ammo in a Wilson Combat ECM magazine…and had the same result. First-round failure to feed. In fact, using the factory magazine, as well as STI and Wilson Combat mags, and using several different types of FMJ and hollow point rounds, I had consistent FRFTF’s on every single mag for over 300 rounds.

After that I had intermittent FRFTFs, but it was still more common than not. The Sig Sauer 230gr HP defensive load in the STI magazine seemed to have the fewest problems, but even then, it occasionally hung up. That was the only malfunction in firing I had over 500 rounds of testing. Once the first round loaded, they all ran through the gun reliably.

There’s no beveling on the magazine well at all. Even a little bit of file work would improve that situation. But even after insertion, if any pressure was put on the forward edge of the magazine it would get caught inside the mag well. Another quick bump would solve that problem as well.

The ACII manages recoil well, and the familiar Novak style sights got me on target quickly. This isn’t a light gun, weighing in at 2 lbs, 4 oz with an empty magazine, and combined with the traditional lines of a 1911, the gun soaks up recoil from the .45ACP caliber well. Even with simple grips, and no checkering of the front strap, I never had a problem with the gun slipping in my hand. Also, just like every GI-style gun, it drew well from the holster, pointing naturally and putting rounds downrange quickly.

Those rounds went pretty much where I wanted them to. Accuracy was acceptable. Nothing extraordinary, but probably as good or better than the 1911s many U.S. servicemen were issued. From a bag at 25 yards, I scored an average of a three-inch five-round group for 25 rounds with Cap Arms 230gr XTP round, and 3.5 inches using Blaser 230gr FMJ rounds. My best group of the 10 fired measured 2.5 inches with the Cap Arms XTP.

I was very disappointed with the first round failure to feed issues with this gun. It spoils what would otherwise have been a good budget 1911 that shoots far outside of its price range. If you can try one before you buy one, an American Classic II would be a great first 1911 to to add to your collection.

Specifications: Metro Arms American Classic II 1911 .45ACP

Caliber: .45 ACP
Action: Single
Capacity: 8+1 rounds
Barrel Length: 5 inches
Sights: Mil-Spec
Finish: Matte blue
Grips: Custom hardwood
Construction: 4140 steel frame, 4140 hammer forged steel slide
Weight: 36.96 oz. (without magazine)
Length: 8.25″
Height: 5.5″
Width: 1.25″
MSRP: $450

Ratings (out of five stars):

Style and Appearance * * *
The bluing is basic, but even and well done. The weird hammer is out of place and the mix-and-match polish job takes some points off.

Reliability * *
The first round failures to feed were annoying, and happened across a wide array of magazines and ammunition types. Things improves slightly as more rounds were put through the gun. Once the first round got in, all the rest fed, fired, and returned to battery as expected.

Accuracy * * *
Three-inch groups from a Government 1911 is about as standard as it gets. Not bad at all.

Overall * * *
The failure to feed stuck with me, but given the very low price for a 1911, this isn’t a bad buy.

42 Responses to Gun Review: Metro Arms American Classic II .45ACP 1911

  1. “Cheap gun for sale. Only fails to fire occasionally, but accuracy is OK when it does go off. Fit and finish marginal.”

    Any takers?….

    I sure hope not.

    • If you have to have a 1911, save your pennies a while longer and spend the extra couple hundred bucks for a half-way decent one. If you have to have a weapon for self defense, there’s all sorts of better options for $450.

    • To be fair, it never failed to fire. It had issues feeding the first round from the magazine. With that round in place, the gun had zero stoppages in 500+ rounds. Sounds like fit and finish were pretty good.

      …there are plenty of high-end guns with polished or brushed flats and matte curves. Especially on the top of the slide for reducing glare, and especially on raw stainless guns. In general, mixing polished and matte is a way to do a super subtle “two-tone” finish.

      • I’ve seen this on various guns when loading 8 rounds from the magazine. Did you try loading with 7 rounds and if so did it still malfunction?

        • I never tried 7, but there were times that I tried just 5 during the accuracy testing. Same problem.

        • It’s just one of those “some gunsmithing required” kind of guns.

          I once bought a ridiculously cheap polymer framed 9mm at the pawn shop. With FMJ 124gr, I got about 30% FTF all the time (regardless of magazine or position within the magazine). After awhile I noticed a pattern on where the bullet jammed and deduced it was the rough machining on the feed ramp. I disassembled, got out some sandpaper (yes! sandpaper) and got to work. I haven’t put much through it since then, maybe 300 rounds. But haven’t had a jam yet.

      • Meh, I’ll wait until the CMP sees those Army surplus 1911s show up. With Trump in office I’d like to see this go through. I’d much rather buy a piece of history for $450 than one of these….

  2. Yours probably has an issue unique to your example and not common to all. Can it be returned for service?

    • It can and the company has already offered to send me another pistol. I’ll update the review accordingly after I get it in and fire it.

      • I’d like to see that. A follow-up review with a different gun would be fair and useful. If it’s a broad problem, then I would avoid it like poison, but if it was the proverbial”lemon” that’s a different story.

    • I never trust a single example review for reliability on a budget or new gun. I know people who had flawless Gen 1 R51s. You gave to look up a bunch of reviews and forums to get a sense of how reliable they are.

  3. I was strongly considering a a Metro Arms 1911 back when I was in the market a while back. I don’t think I ever once read a bad review from an owner of one of these. I wonder how representative your particular pistol was.

    • Reviews by owners are valuable, but you need to remember there’s an ownership bias built in. Most gun mag reviews have the same problem (overly positive), just with different root causes.

      That’s why I like to get reviews here, and from Gun Tests magazine (basically Consumer Reports for firearms). Less built-in biases. Of course I read other reviews too, but need to adjust my trust level and weighting accordingly.

      And of course as you note, most gun reviews (and many ammo reviews, for that matter) have sample-size problems.

  4. This is something that we almost never see. The gun carries a lifetime warranty and we would have asked that this pistol be returned to us so we could take a look at it. We find that these guns run extremely well and very reliably out of the box, but the choice of hollow point defensive loads before a minor break in period may have something to do with it? I don’t know and would ask that our gunsmith be able to look at this pistol, as this situation baffles me a little bit. I hope you are willing to let us rectify the situation.
    Thank you!
    Rafael Del Valle
    National Sales Manager – Eagle Imports Inc.

    • Rafael,

      A single hiccup does not indicate that a manufacturer produces low-quality firearms. It simply means that one particular firearm has a defect. What is most important is if the manufacturer will promptly repair/replace a defective firearm. It sounds like your company falls into that category.

      For reference I recently heard that all manufacturers occasionally ship firearms with defects. That seems to be pretty accurate as far as I can tell.

      • Indeed. No matter how good the process is, nothing mass-produced is going to have a lemon rate of 0; it’s simply not possible. Maybe in 50 years, but for now? No.

    • I’m trying to buy the American classic II in stainless 9mm. It’s been out of stock everywhere a long time. Any idea if there is an issue exporting and if not, when can I expect it to be available again?

  5. To be fair, at that price, it may be a good project gun. Maybe a little polish on the feed ramp???? Could be an easy issue to fix, and fun project. Just sayin.

  6. I’ve carried a Metro Arms American Classic Commander now for over 3 years. It presently has just over 4500 rounds through it and hasn’t ever had a single failure from the time it cam out of the box. I also have several friends who either have the Commander such as I have or the 5 inch Government model who all have the same reliability as mine.
    I would say you just happened to get a bad one and it needs to be sent back to the factory.

  7. I rolled the dice on one of these several years back. While I don’t shoot 1911s all that much, my Sig C3 is my hot weather CCW. (My new favorite Glock 34 and old standby p229 are hard to hide in more weather appropriate clothing.) This gun is not as nice as the Sig that cost nearly three times as much, but I have never had a function issue with it.

  8. It’s hard to judge a gun on one review based on one example of the firearm. But it’s a good start. Good honest review. If you are looking into this particular 1911 read multiple reviews and if possible find a rental you can shoot.

    • “…find a rental you can shoot.”

      It’s hard to find cheaper guns as rentals. I’ve always thought that a range that had a case full of sub-$400 rentals would find that they make a lot more money renting those out than the fancier guns. Sure, people like to play around with the more exotic stuff, but what a lot (most?) of people buy are the cheap guns, and there’s almost no place you can go to test-drive an RIA 1911 or a SAR B6P.

      I’ve also thought, for gun ranges that are also gun shops, they should offer to refund the rental fee if you end up buying the same gun from them. It’s not much money, but it might sell a few more guns to people who otherwise were going to try out the rental and then buy online.

  9. A five pound trIgger is normal on most 1911s. Anything under four pounds is rather dicey for a 1911 trigger on a carry gun. Since moving to Wisconsin I am uncomfortable with the five pound Springfield MILSPEC trigger when I am wearing gloves. I move to my plastic XDs once it gets cold.

    • “Anything under four pounds is rather dicey for a 1911 trigger on a carry gun”
      For the 1911s I’ve reviewed, most are around 3.5lbs. A few are under. I think this is actually the first one over 4.5lbs I’ve reviewed.

      • That doesn’t mean that your average quality 1911 meant for self defense has that light of a trigger. 2.5lbs is a competition trigger not a carry trigger.

        • Colt series 70 standard trigger weight is 4 to 4.5lbs.
          Colt National Match, 3.5lbs
          Wilson Combat, 3 to 3.5, will go lower upon request
          STI 2011, 3 to 3.5
          STI 1911 Trojan 4.0 will go lower upon request
          Remington R1 3.5 to 4
          Ruger SR1911 5 to 5.5
          Springfield Loaded 5.5 to 6
          Sig 1911 TacOps 4.0

        • And that is supposed to refute what I said. I will leave the hair trigger to the operators.

  10. I’ve been around 3 of these. 1 I own 1 my boss owns and 1 a friend owns. I will leave out the 1 my boss has cause I bet it has less than 300rds through it.
    Mine and my friends are both under serial# 500. His is stock. Mine has had the sear and a couple springs replaced with Wilson Combat parts, cerakoted, and night sites.

    Both 1911s run good as long as they are kept reasonably clean and are fed ball ammo or the right HPs. SOME HPsWILL TURN THISSEMI AUTO INTO A SINGLE ACTION.

    I paid $380 a 8 years ago and I know all 3 of the above mentioned would not hesitate to buy another on

  11. I have the same ACII in 9×19.

    3/4″ 5 shot strings unsupported at 7 yards with Win Whitebox Wallyworld plinkers so it’ll shoot.

    I have a few problems with Metro mags not locking back the slide when shot empty. MecGars do lock back every time.

    Slide frame is very tight and no Rock Island rattle. I put the Valkyrie Dynamics skeleton grips on, they are great gripping-much better than the OEM fishscales.

    These 1911’s are like mid market Hyundai’s. They’ll get you to work fine but some Range Roosters will look down their noses and resale isn’t great. (Colts are like Caddys-once great, now a ghost of their former self as the market has moved on).

    If you want a nice 1911 for the range and don’t want to drop a lot on something that goes active once a month-this may be just what you need.

  12. I bought one of these about 5 years ago when they first showed up. I put around 2000+ rounds through mine before I traded it. I never had any problems with mine.

  13. I was going to pass on commenting until I read the one about “ownership bias”. I love my kids but that doesn’t mean they aren’t goofs from time to time. Briefly, I have had a full-size MAC 1911 for 7 years. I have put upwards of 5000 rounds through it. I had to think hard about it, but am pretty sure I have never had a FTF or a FTE in all that time. I replaced the recoil spring once. I have shot every kind of ammo from practice to expensive personal defense, steel case to +P. I carry it defensively from time to time when I care to without a second thought about whether it will perform if I need it to. I have out shot younger men at the range ( I am 64 with old man eyes) with it because I know right where it’ll hit every time. I bought it originally because I wanted a 1911 to play around with and didn’t want to spend an arm and a leg. I think I paid $380 new for it. It doesn’t rattle and the bluing looks great. Guess I am unclear as to what constitutes a marginal weapon. I look forward to more enlightenment from the upscale 1911 owners.

  14. One bad example does not mean much. My older brother bought a Sig P226 about 10 years ago. It had at least one FTF or FTE on every magazine, continuing past the first 1,000 rounds. He used several different brands of magazines. No joy. Finally, he sent it in for factory service. It came back and still did not work. He sent it in 2 more times. He finally traded it in on another brand. Do I think Sig makes a bad gun? No. Do I think that every manufacturer of any machines item can occasionally put out a bad item? Yes. Quality control is about how few bad examples get out. I look for good quality control in the brand’s of firearms I purchase. I also look for the manufacturer’s willingness to make it right. I actually have an RIA with about 5,000 rounds out of it and only one failure ever. The Colt I fired in the Army was not nearly as accurate nor as reliable. In defense of the Colt, it was pretty sloppy. It rattled like a Plymouth Fury on a washboard dirt road.

  15. Philippine built guns are an excellent value for the money. They are inexpensive, not cheap. My wife and I both own ATI imported Philippines built 1911s, and they both run flawlessly. I would have to shoot this particular gun to be able to give a good personal review, but in general, you don’t need to spend $1000 to get a decent 1911.

  16. Same thing used to happen with my P40 and some cheap Pro-Mags. I spent some time on the feed ramp with a nail file and it ran like a dream. Miss that gun, but my brother wanted it and I needed the money.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *