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A couple of weeks ago RF called me to say Cabot Guns wanted me to test their Black Diamond 1911. Again. “Cabot wants you to come up to Pennsylvania, see their facility and shoot the gun.” My initial reaction was not positive. “You should just let them know it’s probably not going to go well,” I told him. “Three bad reviews in a row won’t be helpful.” According to RF, Cabot insisted. They said their job wasn’t finished until a customer was completely satisfied. Well, I’m not a customer . . .

I wanted to be one. But based on my previous experience with the firearm’s reliability, I couldn’t see myself paying the freight. Still, I respected the attitude. Cabot had a gun that didn’t run right. The company was going to work on it until I was happy. And they were risking yet another bad review. Performance over publicity. A very rare thing.

So I called Robert Bianchin who fronts Cabot Guns and laid it out for him. I would go, but if the gun didn’t run exceptionally well, my third (and final) review would tell the truth about Cabot guns. Three strikes looks a whole lot worse than two. I also let him know I had an ulterior motive.

One of the guys I deployed with during my first tour in Afghanistan lived about two hours away from Cabot’s HQ. I haven’t seen the Old Infidel in years. So if he was willing to pay for me to come up and see my friend and shoot a gun, I’m on board. To be clear, they paid most of the travel expenses ($25 a bag is robbery, US Airways) but they did not pay me in any way.

So RF and I showed up in PA on Sunday night. I tried to ignore the fact that there was some kind of frozen white stuff all over the ground. I hear New England is having an infrastructure crisis, but really, you people should do something about that stuff. It’s everywhere. And it puts me in a foul mood.

Come Monday morning the white stuff was still on the ground (the horror!) and it was still cold. Something about my appearance must have given away my mood; Robert looked at my empty hand and put a coffee cup into it. I’ve killed a lot of men but never with a coffee cup in my hand; he was just keeping everyone safe. Wise choice my friend, wise indeed.

Mr. Bianchin met us at the door of Cabot’s PA HQ. The first thing I noticed when I walked in wasn’t the gleaming 1911s in gorgeous cases. It was the the wood. I’m a bit of a collector of fine stringed instruments (I don’t have a problem, I can quit any time I want…really). So I always notice interesting wood. Mr. Bianchin scours the earth for quality scale material; he has some truly outstanding pieces in his office. After another cup of caffeine, we went into a smaller office to look at samples of Cabot’s 1911s.

officeshot

I’ve said it in two previous pieces, and I’ll say it again. These guns are gorgeous. Their photos do not do them justice. Not even close. The burled ironwood grips are better than any I have seen. Mammoth tooth ivory, amber (yes, amber) and any wood you can think of, and the best versions of them all, adorn their sides.

The finishing is amazing. Mr. Bianchin brought out a set of custom 5″ compensated guns that were spectacular, with a glacial blue finish. I’ve never seen a blue like that, or a finish executed so perfectly. The guns’ polish reminded me of the flat glassy water of a limestone-bottomed pond. Only something so perfectly flat can have that kind of depth. Oh, but you have a hard-chromed 1911 done by Mr. Supersmith that’s the best finish ever? No. Shut up. Your finish is stupid.

bluepair

More coffee, more talk, more gorgeousness. We spent an hour or so talking about their manufacturing process, which is really very impressive. But I finally had to say it: “I don’t really care what goes into your guns. I just care what comes out of them.” I explained, as politely as I can (RF says I need to work on my tact). That none of what I saw really matters. “If you just want to make art,” I said, “don’t put a firing pin in it.”

Bianchin explained that the Black Diamond’s failures to feed were exclusive to my experience. The company’s best ‘smiths had examined the gun in great detail, made some changes and made it right. I would have ample opportunity to test the gun again. I made it clear: “that gun, not just any gun.” I knew the serial number, and I wanted that gun again. And I didn’t want to take it home. Either it shot like a champ that day, or not at all. After all, I’d spent enough time on this gun already.

Challenge made. And to Bianchin’s credit, challenge accepted. He even added that the Black Diamond – like all his guns – should shoot any ammunition within SAAMI spec. Right answer.

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First, I ran the gauntlet of a facility tour. And I’m glad I did. I love a machine shop. They feel like infinite possibility. And man oh man does Cabot have a machine shop. They make their guns with machines that are both old and new: a blank grinder that was over 60 years old, as well as wire and sink EDM, and even the CMM. These guys could build a spaceship in their shop. That’s not an exaggeration.

At the end of the tour, Rob and his crew took me to the assembly and test room to show me what they’d done to the review gun. Ray Rozic and the rest of the team are exceptional engineers and armorers. They walked me through, in detail, what they had tested, what was wrong and what was fixed.

They polished the Black Diamond’s breach face again. They radiused the feed ramp on the frame. And they loosened the extractor to 14 lbs. Which, oddly enough, is exactly what I said needed to be done in the first place. (Dyspeptic Gunsmith nailed it without touching the gun. Much respect sir, much respect.)  Those two things – a round entering the breach incorrectly combined with a tight extractor – will cause all sorts things to go wrong with a 1911. And they had.

fixed-1

So, enough chit chat. To the range!

To the ice cold, freezing-my-butt-off, Jesus-I-am-not-prepared-for-this range. Cabot provided the gun I’d shot before. They also surrendered two others: one of their Bullseye guns and Jones model in Black Nitride instead of the high polish. (By the way, Cabot will black nitride the entire gun, then remove the black nitride from the outside, ensuring a high polish outside and a completely coated interior, if you like).

Cabot’s staff also brought tubs of ammo. Every kind of ammo you can think off. Boxes of the same CorBon and Winchester white box that had failed before, the cheap stuff like TulAmmo, and every kind of hollow-point imaginable.

I shot hundreds of rounds out of the gun I’d shot before. RF shot even more. I shot at least 400 rounds myself. I had one weird failure – a round stove-piped high into the action. It had never even entered the chamber. It was one of the Winchester PDX1 rounds I carry daily. In fact, I’d pulled the magazine out of my daily carry on my hip right there and chambered it in the Black Diamond. The last round in the magazine stove-piped. It was also dented to hell. I’ll be honest: I don’t know if it was dented before or after.

stovepipe

We ran two more boxes of PDX1 with that magazine without a failure of any type. We tried it with different grip types, with the magazine pushed down against the table and without. We tried to induce the failure, but couldn’t.

Then we shot another 100 rounds of all sorts of rounds. I used different types of magazines and different types of rounds. I mixed-up rounds inside the magazine. Different brands, different weights, different round types, in the same mag. I limp-wristed two magazines on purpose. I even shot rounds not looking at the target, just squeezing the trigger as fast as I could, reloading, and doing it again. That one stove pipe was it.

everything

Ok. TTAG readers who have laced into the $6k Black Diamond for its failures-to-feed can stand down. They were right then. The gun is reliable, now. By any reasonable standard, the Cabot Black Diamond is very reliable. And so I turned to the question of accuracy.

I was getting cold. By this time, my hands were so cold I was having trouble loading a magazine. Now, I’m not real smart when it’s warm, but I’m not bright at all when it’s cold. So with my hands shaking to hell, it was time to shoot 50 yard groups. Previously I’d shot 15 yards from the kneel with my arm, but not the gun, resting on the table. Seven of the eight rounds touched, with one (called) flyer. That’s the best shooting I can do. It’s not as good as the gun can do.

Standing unsupported firing at 50 yards with open sights, I shot one five-shot group. It had an eight-inch spread. I shot one five-shot group at 50 yards seated off a front rest. Four of the shots were within four inches, and the last one about eight inches from that. Folks, that’s about as good as I can shoot at all. And it’s not that bad, but I’m sure others can do better. Either way, we solved the accuracy question. This is what a quality 1911 can do.

fromrest

So, are other 1911s more accurate than this gun? I don’t think so. I think this is about as good as you get there. It’s certainly as good as I get. Are there more reliable 1911s out there? I doubt it. Not more than the factory-tweaked and tested Black Diamond. It’s not just that it ran a lot of rounds, it’s that it ran so many different kinds of rounds, from a guy trying to cause a failure, and still be fair about it. The Black Diamond 3.0 ran like a champ, as advertised.

I spent another night in Pittsburgh and thought about it. After passing on this gun twice before, would I want it now? Yes. Absolutely. Here’s the big one [ED: from a combat vet]: would I trust my life with it? Yup. Any day of the week. Would I carry it? Every day of the week.

I appreciate the trip and the opportunity to see an old friend. But I also appreciate this level of customer service. Did Cabot just send me another gun, which most people would think was good enough? No, they fixed the original gun, changed their manufacturing process to incorporate the input, and invited me to test it again. They treated my critique as a challenge. Instead of just ignoring me, they rose to it. That is service at a level very rarely seen. In fact, I don’t know that I ever have.

Cabot Black Diamond with tritium sights and ironwood grips is now on the shopping list. If we meet, you can put a few rounds through it before you order your own.

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112 Responses to Cabot Black Diamond: Exonerated?

  1. There’s fine line between “Paying for quality” and “excessive waste”. Not that I’m judging or telling anyone how to spend there money, but doesn’t it hit a point where a 10K custom 1911 is just a “1911 you paid 10K for”?

    • On the one hand I’m of a mind that “it’s your money, whatever trips your trigger…”.
      On the other hand, don’t ask for sympathy from someone that made due with less and less expensive things so as to save for a rainy day, you know, when your rainy day comes and you’ve pissed it away on expensive cars & guns & fancy vacations.

    • If someone can afford a Bugatti Veyron, even though it’s completely useless for all practical purposes, would you begrudge them for buying one?

      I can’t afford a 6k handgun. Well, I could – I’ve already put close to that much on guns, ammo, classes, and accessories into my guns over the last couple years – but I can’t justify the cost of it. But if someone else can, I’m not going to look down my nose at them for doing it.

    • Ninjaed.

      This is an excellent example of how to deal with bad reviews. Going on the company blog and screaming the words “mouth breathing douchebag”… Not so much.

        • Individual product cost is irrelevant when dealing with bad press. It doesn’t matter if you make a $600 gun or a $6,000 gun. If it does not do what you promise, this is the way to address the issue.

    • Additionally, other than the snootiness of Big Green, if the R51 got 3 returns and extreme work over to make it right, would the review have been more favorable? Does every gun get three chances? Did Cabot apply these improvements to all their line.

      • Every gun gets every chance. Look back at our coverage of the Chiappa Rhino. Or the Ruger SR40. Or MasterPiece Arms as a builder.

        TTAG is always willing to give a gun as many chances as there are chances provided. If a manufacturer says they’ve fixed something, or that we’re wrong, we will give it another go.

        That applies – will apply – to the R51 or any other gun. No exceptions. And that’s the truth.

        • And that is as it should be.

          If a manufacturer claims to have fixed the problems you found, you ought to check them on that. Otherwise their claim remains unchallenged.

          Needless to say, if they haven’t done so, they should be eviscerated (again).

  2. An appropriate test now would be to wait a few months for them to get back to business as usual and then anonymously order one and put it through the same ringer to see if they really changed or if they just sunk the cost on this one specimen to get TTAG to call off the dogs.

    That’s what I would be interested in seeing. We all know the hand of a competent smith can make the worst 1911 run like the best, see if they take the criticism though and apply it to all models going forward.

    • They incorporated those changes into all of their future guns, which really impressed me. However, I’m totally willing to shoot another one. Blue, high polish, meteorite handled. They can just send it now, you know, if they have the time.

      • Yeah I meant someone should wait a few months and buy one to see if they are still doing it… really cool to see that they were so open and driven to provide a perfect product.

        If one were to accidentaly fall off the truck in my neighborhood I’d be praying it was the one from the last picture at the bottom of Robert’s article yesterday, looked like a Damascus slide, black nitride frame (or some incredible deep matte black finish), and some stunning smooth hardwood grips.

        We can dream right?

    • I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, mainly because I don’t believe TTAG has that much clout. No, they wouldn’t fly me back and forth to test it, but I am confident they would have fixed it for me.

  3. To tell the truth, I would have wanted to shoot another randomly-selected gun. What does it prove that the one gun that has possibly had an army of company smiths working on it specifically for a month or two runs right?

    • Exactly. It was good to see them make it function properly, but come on, it should have in the first place. Now, who is gonna fork over 6K for a random one, and see how it goes?

      • I shot two other guns, different models, to prove just that. The rounds shot with those guns are not included in my round count on the Black Diamond.

        • Yeah, but were those other guns random production samples, or guns that were specifically selected for you by Cabot?

      • Word. Even if you picked from a random sample of 10 guns, they could easily be hand-selected function. Granted, the changes were allegedly made to the entire engineering process.

        I’m still not interested in Cabot, especially given that Dan Wesson makes a pretty sweet 1911. And Rock Island makes cheap guns that work. The exceptional customer service makes me less averse to the idea.

  4. I’m very glad that Dyspeptic Gunsmith is busy running his successful business, as he demonstrates routinely that success is well-deserved. I’d love to see the occasional feature in which he’d drop a few hundred words of wisdom on us, but I’m going to take what I can get and be thankful for it.

  5. I’m glad to hear that it’s finally running well, but the bottom line: For a $6000 gun, it should not have taken 3 tries to get it right. It should have been right the first time. Failing that, given the fact that Cabot knew it was a review gun and already had one strike against it, the fact that they sent it out a second time and still failed to fix the problem is inexcusable.

    I am in the position where spending $6K on a gun is within the realm of possibility. I very much doubt I’d spend it on a Cabot when I can get an accurate and reliable Wilson Combat for less.

    • In fairness, their stance all along is that it was designed to extremely tight tolerances and the ammo that it was choking on were outside the spec of those tolerances. They since said “yeah sure if you want it to shoot ALL ammo, then we can make it do that to” and now it does. Should it have shot everything all along? Sure.

      Is the typical owner of a Cabot gun exclusively shooting cheap stuff? I wouldn’t know, but it should be able to.

      • “Is the typical owner of a Cabot gun exclusively shooting cheap stuff? I wouldn’t know, but it should be able to.”

        Like the old saying goes…

        How do you think he got rich enough to afford it?

        • Not only that, but the great Ammo Drought of 2013 should have taught everyone that sometimes you gotta shoot what you can find.

      • I’m okay with that in the same way as I’m okay with car makers who require premium unleaded fuel to make their engines run right. My issue however is that the limitation should be stated up front. If you are going to design a gun that has to be fed premium ammo, then you state the ammo you recommend on the ad sheet before a customer plunks down the cash for the gun. You don’t bring up that fact after the gun is delivered and problems have been noticed.

        Sig Sauer had a similar problem some years back with their 556 Russian rifle. It seems that the gun was executed with tight tolerances and was an absolute tack driver with premium ammo. Problem is that lots of people like cheap 7.62 x 39 mm. Sig discovered that limitation before they shipped in great quantities and reworked the gun. Granted, the customer base for a $1,000 rifle is not the same as one for a $6,000 pistol, but the point is that if you are going to have limitation on your firearm, you state them up front.

        If you don’t know those limitations exist, then I submit that you did not adequately test your product prior to release and Remington could tell you all sorts of thing about what a bad idea that is.

    • “I can get an accurate and reliable Wilson Combat for less.” At this level of finishing (which WC isn’t matching), you are talking about their Supergrades, which puts you pretty close to the Black Diamond’s price. I’m a big WC fan, I’ve owned a few WCs (I still have one CQB and two WC 92s, if they count) and would highly recommend them to anyone if you have $3k to spend on an out of the box 1911.
      But they aren’t this pretty, and they aren’t this accurate. At least none of the ones I have owned are. The only 1911s I’ve owned that are this accurate are the Les Baers, but they are nowhere near this reliable.

  6. So you don’t think a standard 1911 can be that accurate? Well when you die and meet our maker, seek out SGT Alvin York and SGM Basil Plumbly and ask them. Both were known to be very accurate with a government issued 1911 under the stress of combat.

    I also note that neither of my inexpensive 1911s had to be returned to the factory even once to make them work right.

  7. “So if he was willing to pay for me to come up and see my friend and shoot a gun, I’m on board. To be clear, they paid most of the travel expenses ($25 a bag is robbery, US Airways) but they did not pay me in any way.”

    I got this far and had to stop to comment.

    From where I sit, you got a paid trip to visit your friend as well as visit the review. That is what’s known as a gift. Which is a form of compensation. Even if you didn’t get a check, cash, free ammo, or a gold peso, you’re still getting something of personal value from the company.

    Just so you know … If you worked for the US government, and did this, you could be fired and possibly charged for accepting compensation. The rules are pretty strict and pretty clear.

    I will now go back and read the rest. But please realize this does put a bias on everything positive you say.

    • You gotta be kidding. At least he said what the benefit is. Dang. In every other gun review the benefit is: I got to play with a fancy gun for free, of course I’m going to say nice stuff.

      • In fairness, many of the reviews done by the folks not in the inner circle here are done of guns and gear purchased at retail by the reviewer, thus are not samples specifically sent out by a manufacturer for a review.

        These are the reviews that I put the greatest value on as they are reviews of the gun I would likely receive if I bought one myself.

  8. If I bought a handgun for six grand and had to send it back twice to get it to work properly, there had better be two of them when I open the box the third time.

  9. These extreme toleranced 1911s give all 1911s a bad name.
    A little rattle and a “snugged” up fit gives the gun plenty of accuracy with great reliability.

    Are 1/1000ths needed when 1/100ths work? Bullseye maybe, everywhere else not so much.

    • 1911s in general give 1911s a bad name.

      Do you know why there are so many well-versed and well-practiced experts (like DG) that can fix 1911s and make them run reliably? Think about it.

      Hint: Well-practiced.

      • OK, I’m going to stick a foot into this.

        There are so many ‘smiths who know 1911’s because they’ve been America’s most popular self-loading pistol for 100 years. The basic design is still pretty much as it came from JMB. The 1911A1 had a few changes, and those were pretty much the only significant changes until lawyers got involved with the Series 80 design. Today, most 1911’s made are GI or Series 70 style guns.

        Revolver designs have changed more than the 1911 design. All of them. Look at an old Colt, S&W, Ruger’s first wheelguns, and look at the modern ones. Lots of changes – some of them rather significant. There was one outfit making as-original SAA’s, but in today’s legal environment, I think that’s a fool’s errand.

        Not so the 1911.

        Then there’s the fact that every gunsmithing school in the nation teaches their students how to work on 1911’s.

        For better or worse, the 1911 is “The American Pistol.” Combat Tupperware made from compressed Cheez-Whiz might be popular in some circles, but want to know something? Here’s one method by which you can tell what is popular out there in the market:

        Pick up a Brownells catalog. Start at Page 1. The products are lumped together in the catalog according to the type/model of gun. AR-15’s are in front – and the AR products take quite a number of pages.

        Want to guess what the #2 gun is, behind the AR pages? The 1911. And that grouping of products goes on for quite some number of pages. Beyond the 1911’s you get into bolt guns, pump shotguns, etc.

        • There are many smiths who know the 1911 and there are many idiots calling themselves smiths out there who know how to ruin a gun and will do so (I count you in the former group, not the latter, if that’s not clear). I can’t blame the gun for those idiots.

          But the 1911 sure seems to bring out the urge in some people to tinker. And most of the time the tinkering does no damn good, if one is lucky. In large part because so few people know what the f*ck they are doing; they don’t know enough to figure out the root cause isn’t necessarily the frigging feed ramp.

          I just heard a story last night about a local IPSC match, where the spectators noticed the (fancy) 1911s jammed a lot, the usual FTF that is the mental image that leaps to my mind whenever some gun salesman pushes a “purdy” 1911 at me. The Glocks didn’t. As much as you dislike the “cheeze whiz” thing (personally I cut them more of a break and think they are made of velveeta) I don’t think it can be denied that a lot of 1911s that are floating around out there don’t work worth a damn. This may well be because some manufacturers themselves don’t know what the f*ck they are doing. (It doesn’t look like Cabot did, for that matter. Whether that’s still true or not is going to be interesting to see.) Unfortunately when one is watching another shooter and the gun jams, it’s really hard to determine brand and model, which is a shame because the market then has a hard time deciding that Company X is a bunch of donkeyf*cking morons even if their product is purdy, and Company Y actually makes a good product.

          One is forced to rely on anecdote and those come in two forms. 1) A person says his brand X was a piece of crap, and another person chimes in to say his is flawless. 2) A person says his brand X was flawless and another person chimes in to say his was a piece of crap. Given that no manufacturer has ever made zero mistakes (sometimes the bad ones accidentally make a gun that works), both can happen with a product regardless of its actual average quality.

          Glock has the advantage of being made by one company, which clearly knows how to make a gun that functions (even if it’s fugly and the trigger feels like crap and it’s susceptible to limp wristing) so the experience is much more uniform and can be blamed or credited to the design unambiguously. But personally I’d rather have an ugly gun that works than a beautiful one that doesn’t. Fortunately one doesn’t actually have to make that particular choice. But given I have a predilection for guns with a steel frame (“We’re not gonna let you get away with that.” “who’s ‘we’?” “Me, and Charlie, and Zulu–don’t be fooled by the name, Zulu’s a European”) it would sure be nice if I could figure out which 1911 manufacturers are actually better bets without the fog of “Mine works great/Mine is crap” vs “Mine is crap/well gee mine works great.” I’ve been forced to assume they are all just too doggone likely to turn out to be crap out of the box and price is no guide whatsoever (or maybe, it’s an inverse guide). Nothing would piss me off more than to drop a grand on a gun that turns out to be a POS without another grand worth of work and aggravation poured into it.

          (PS: And I, too, am profoundly glad I don’t write movie scripts.)

        • All good points.

          Part of the problem in 1911’s today is that too many 1911 companies want to believe that the design can be tightened up with only the programming on CNC’s. Yea, that sorta works – for awhile. Until the tooling wears. Until the operator stuffing material into the mill gets a little sloppy to make his numbers that day. CNC machines aren’t magic. They’re just a computer tied to a bunch of steppers and servos, running the ballscrews on a piece of chip-cutting equipment. They’re not magical machines. If you don’t know how to machine on a manual machine, you probably won’t turn out good results on a CNC machine, either. The issues of speeds, feeds, finishes, coolants/lubes, etc – those don’t go away as if by magic simply because you put your workpiece into a CNC.

          And, BTW, not all CNC machines are created the same. A Haas isn’t the equivalent of a DMG or a Kitamura.

          As to gun butchers: There’s no shortage of butchers hacking on Glocks, too, ya know. I’ve seen some butcher jobs with soldering irons (to add some sort of gripping texture to the frame/grip), replacement parts, milled slides, etc. There’s all manner of butchers out there on all manner of guns. It’s the same deal with anything. I’ve seen million dollar houses where the moulding and trim around the edge of the room won’t cover the gaps between the high-dollar hardwood floor and the wall. I’ve seen cars with $90K pricetags on them with sewing errors in the fancy leather upholstery.

          In short, I’ve seen no shortage of cock-up nonsense in all sorts of products. Guns are no exception, regardless of the company making them. Plenty of Glocks have gone “ka-boom” in from their first .40’s onwards. The advertising slogan of Glock (“Perfection”) really sticks in my craw, because I’d rather have a company who is a bit more humble about their product and then have a world-class support and follow-up staff behind the product than a company that thinks their products are “perfect” when they leave the factory, and you’re a moron if you call them with an issue. Krieghoff sells very nice shotguns. $8 to $10K for a K-80. They’ve had issues with a couple of their guns blowing out the right side of the receiver, probably (IMO) due to a metallurgical or heat-treating issue. It happens. Did they pull the Gaston Glock “perfection” nonsense? Heck no. Krieghoff fell over themselves, stepping and fetching to address the issue. In my experience, Glock hasn’t been quite so effusive in their customer support.

          As to function: Guns malfunction. They’re machines. There’s quite a lot going on inside a gun that makes perfect reliability a really difficult thing to achieve. Gun people get more pissy about a failure to function than most, because a gun is often a tool that is deployed when things are going sideways and down real fast, and that tool has ONE job at that point, and it better do it well, or it might mean your ass. Gun people also are often notorious for poor maintenance on their guns, and they still expect it to function flawlessly. If we treated aircraft the way some gun people treat guns, would we expect planes to have the safety record they do? Nope. It’d be raining aluminum and flesh all over the place.

          One of the biggest problems I see in the gun market is that gun buyers continue to believe and delude themselves that the US dollar is worth a fart in a hurricane. It isn’t. As with all tangible goods, the US dollar’s purchasing power has declined – dramatically. When I was born, $2500 would buy you a pretty nice new car. Today, $25,000 is what it takes to get into a car of equivalent value to the consumer, IMO.

          Gun prices are getting compressed, and quality is being squeezed out of guns in order that the manufacture can sell the guns, pay the 10 or 11% tax, plus leave margin for the two-tier dealer network, and still keep prices on a good quality gun under $1K. That’s a very tough thing to accomplish today. At some point, gun buyers are going to have to recognize the declining valuation of the US dollar means that a quality gun (rifle, shotgun or handgun) made in the US, cannot be priced to the retailer under $1K. Yes, there are things called “guns” in the market that cost less than $500. To that point, I respond a) they’re made off-shore, by people being paid a mere fraction of what American labor is being paid, b) sometimes there’s currency arb involved in the pricing, c) some of the quality on these products is so rough that I refer to them as “GLO’s” – “Gun-Like Object.” People should quit always blaming American gun companies for prices jumping up and start taking a stick to the clowns at the Federal Reserve.

        • There’s no shortage of butchers hacking on Glocks, too, ya know. I’ve seen some butcher jobs with soldering irons (to add some sort of gripping texture to the frame/grip), replacement parts, milled slides, etc. There’s all manner of butchers out there on all manner of guns.

          True. I’m also seeing “customized” Glocks that are, apparently, quite competently done. (ZEV.) But here’s a key difference between Glocks and 1911s: With 1911s a lot of the time the butchers are in the factory, probably in the design department, affecting the way that particular brand is constructed. The gun is pre-butchered before the customer drools over the finish (or whatever it is he’s thinking when he buys it) for the first time.

      • The bigger problem is every Tom, Dick and Harry has built 1911’s over the past 110 years at ever price point imaginable.

  10. OK- I’m never gonna buy one, even if I’d won the lottery last night. This does change my opinion of this firearm and manufacturer somewhat as they got it reliable- but as others mentioned without surveying their customers we can’t know if this was truly a one-off lemon or if others have experienced the same things. (systematic vice random error) . Bottom line- I do have a better opinion of the firearm.

    I am still concerned that this high-end manufacturer didn’t get the repairs right the first time. It shows not just a defect in the manufacturing process, but a flaw in their testing procedures for returned guns. Are they rectifying this as well? Same kind of issue in terms of systematic vs random error. Are they consistently getting repairs done correctly the first time on returned firearms.

  11. Third try …

    … still stovepiped.

    Sorry, this should have been the “no room for any excuses test”. It should have worked 100% flawlessly or not.

    It didn’t.

    Give it a rest.

    • In fairness there’s no assurance that the stovepipe wasn’t off defective ammo; it was the round sitting at the bottom of a mag JWT had been carrying for who knows how long. He said he didn’t know if the round were dented before he tried to fire it.

      • I’m not one to make excuses for any manufacturer, but even here at TTAG, there has been another recent example of this ammo brand/type not functioning properly in a high-grade 1911 (see JWT’s “Question of the Day: When is Your EDC Reliable?” article, dated February 2nd).

        If I start seeing multiple examples of different pistols having trouble with the same load (even intermittently), at some point, I begin to wonder more about the load than the pistols.

        • Damfino.

          Perhaps JWT will elaborate on what happened and why he think’s its a possibility.

          Hopefully not just becuase he really hopes it is.

        • I’ve been trying to answer this all day but every time I hit reply it crashes Explorer.

          When was doing the tour, I saw the magazines they were using. I had used an STI magazine in my testing, and found it of the more reliable mags. So I took the one in my gun out, pushed the rounds into my pocket, and handed them the magazine. When we got to the car, I took out mags and rounds from my bag, loading a new mag and a spare. I inserted one of those into my gun. I thought the rounds were all of the same type, but they were not. I had mixed PDX1 and Critical Defense together.
          Either way, the round dented in two places, one big, one small. I could duplicate one dent with the gun, but not both. Maybe I had ejected it before, and just put it back in the box, or maybe something else, or maybe the gun just screwed up. I can’t know for sure, since I could not duplicate the failure at the range. Could be anything.
          However, now that magazine is having trouble with the Critical Defense round, not even inserted into a gun, just getting the rounds to come out at all if more than 3 rounds are loaded. I’ve never had that problem with these mags and that round before. So now I probably look like a jerk to the engineers at Cabbot since I told them this was the magazine that worked best for me.

  12. OK, fair enough. After long and arduous screwing around, we can now feel assured that they finally got this gun working right.

    Those who have pointed out that their attitude is far better than Remington’s re the R51 are spot on.

    It will be interesting to see if they really do apply this to every gun they manufacture from this point forward, and they succeed in getting it right the first time. I strongly suggest that they use a few of the protocols JWT did (multiple different kinds of commonly available ammo–because that’s what their customers will want to shoot–mixing them up in the same magazine, running different brands of magazines, etc.) when testing their product. I don’t know what they actually do, but I wouldn’t be surprised if (up until now) they had run a couple of different boutique brands through and called it good.

    (As an aside, when I say “commonly available” I do mean “commonly available off the shelf.” Sure, one can order off the internet and save money ordering a big lot–but I’d hesitate to order a big lot until I had run a small, retail-sized sample through the gun first, and that retail-sized sample…needs to be at the LGS. This does include “crap” brands, to be honest. Even stuff I personally wouldn’t choose to shoot in my firearms. Because they cease to be my firearm once they are sold.)

  13. Didn’t read it.
    Won’t read the next post about Cabots garbage guns either.
    Enough with Cabot guns.
    They make expensive but pretty garbage, you’ll never change my mind and I think we’re all tired of posts about pretty guns that don’t shoot but cost as much as a solid used car.
    No more Cabot please.

  14. Price and reliability are not necessarily related. I expect an inexpensive Ruger SR1911 to run and run without a hiccup, ever. I expect that a one-off, custom or semi-custom gun might need a lot of attention to get it running and keep it running. Just as a Ferrari will need far less attention than a daily driver like a Honda.

    That Ruger SR1911 is a tool. The Cabot is an extravagance. And it’s perfectly okay to be extravagant. In fact, it’s kinda fun.

      • Oh, I don’t know.

        Most big cities, and a lot of midsized ones, there are places where you park a Ferrari in need of its first oil change, say, and then walk away for 5 – 10 minutes; you will never need to worry about that supercar ever again.

    • The Ruger SR1911 was my first 1911. It is a good gun, but actually had a lot of failures feeding. And it was no where near as accurate. It is now as accurate as my stock Colt Combat Elite, and still not as forgiving with ammunition, and that is after I paid a competent gun smith more than the cost of the gun to get it to that level.

      • Wow – that’s bad! My SR1911 is bone-stock (well, put some black laminate grips on it from the Ruger webstore) and has in excess of 4k rnds through it, with only two detail-cleans in it’s 3yr life, and usually only bore-snaked every few hundred rounds. It has never FTE’d, and only FTF’d once, because of an ID10T error when the shooter (ahem…yeah, it was me) didn’t seat the mag correctly. It’s always been minute-of-bad-guy accurate, certainly has more inherent accuracy than I do as the shooter! 😉 (I’m not gonna win any awards, but I’d bet you don’t want me shooting at you, regardless? LOL) It’s not my first 1911, nor my best 1911, it’s my carry 1911.

        Guess everybody but Gaston makes firearms that vary?

  15. Did you just imply that Pennsylvania is part of New England?

    Anyway very interesting article and I am glad it turned out well. I love 1911s but the extractor design on a 1911 (not a coil spring) is one area I always point to when people argue about the 1911 vs. modern designs.

  16. Nice. Remington makes junk, and their attitude is junk. But then, anybody can make junk. Cabot is the type of place I’d do business with if the pin heads at the lottery would just get the numbers right.

  17. At these prices, the only way the company will make money is through a deepening (not widening, unless the economy improves!) base of customer support over time. They can’t afford to play games and plaster over a couple of bad reviews with a trick. Guys who think they could do that would be too dumb to operate the shop’s tools.

    I can’t think of a better recommendation for this company than what they did. Their prices are too rich for my blood, though if they got into Hi-Powers I could see taking out a loan . . .

    • Well, I can think of a better recommendation- getting the repairs correct the first time vice the 3rd. (I had issues with a Knoxx product, they noted a comment of mine on a forum and PM’d me to ship it to them with the firearm. They fixed the issue, provided me a detailed explanation of the cause, and provided me some SWAG for my trouble. It worked flawlessly, I didn’t have to return it multiple times.)

      But I do like the fact that they didn’t complain about the test or blame the folks testing the firearm but instead admitted it was their issue to resolve.

  18. I’m sorry. But 6000 for a 1911 is just ridiculous. No matter how it looks or shoots. I love the 1911. It’s one of the most iconic platforms in the history of firearms. But it is not a design or platform that is worth 6000. there is no possible way it came even close to that to manufacturer. And the fact it took 3 tries to get it right? do they have the resources as a small company to keep fixing issues with everyone? Imagine if they had to fix something 3 times for everyone? That would be costly and very time consuming even for a small company. Great looking gun. No denying. But 6000 for a 1911 is pushing the boundary for what is even acceptable for the platform even in its finest model. You can get a 1911 for 3000 that is pretty much perfect. So why would anyone pay double that? It just makes no sense.

    • I’ve personally handled and fired their guns. In terms of fit, finish, and just the sheer precision of the pistol they are remarkable. I think your reaction is very understandable, but once you see and handle one the price fades in importance.

  19. Add me to the list of people who have a ton of respect for a company that understands how to deal with a bad review, the gun is not in my price range but I have a ton of respect for a company that responds by listening and fixing what the consumer sees as faults.

    • I highly doubt that. I don’t think there is a 1911 that for me personally would justify paying the price of a decent used car for. I own and have owned several 1911s and the design itself isn’t worth that. At least in my mind. Maybe an old 1911 with some sort of historical significatance. Maybe. But not for a new one

  20. “Oh, but you have a hard-chromed 1911 done by Mr. Supersmith that’s the best finish ever? No. Shut up. Your finish is stupid.”

    That’s a great line right there.

    • “I tried to ignore the fact that there was some kind of frozen white stuff all over the ground. I hear New England is having an infrastructure crisis, but really, you people should do something about that stuff. It’s everywhere. And it puts me in a foul mood.”

      this is my favorite.
      “Infrastructure crisis”… I’m still giggling.

  21. The two kinds of guns that never get bad reviews: 1. Really expensive ones 2. Really cheap ones. Its largely for the same reason: Ego. No one wants to admit that they overpaid for a gun, so everything about the gun is great, everything is just so wonderful, people who don’t have one “just don’t get it until they have one.” Then when said expensive gun does work right there will be a million excuses why. As for the great customer service… a company is SUPPOSED to take care of a faulty product. They are supposed to be polite to you. They aren’t doing you a favor, you are doing them a favor. The second catagory (cheap guns) always get good reviews because no one wants to admit that everyone was right to trash the crumby gun. No one wants to admit they are a cheap skate and wasted money on a sub par product and look like a loser over it.

    • Yeah, but there are companies in every line of business that don’t get it. For example Acer in computers. Had really bad customer service, I won’t buy from them ever.

    • Well said. Buying a 6000 1911 is like buying A 100,000 car. You should not drive it off the lot and have problems. They should be nice when a 6000 gun has problems. I’d be pissed

    • Then how do you explain the horrid reviews and reputations of the Kel Tec’s and High Points? Both those guns are cheap and are universally panned by critics and gun reviewers everywhere. And not just 1 or 2. Pretty much everything they make have pretty poor reviews as being unreliable, having poor ergonomics and triggers, and using the worst materials possible to build their guns which in turn cause very spotty and inconsistent performance more often than not.

  22. Bah! They sent out a malfunctioning gun twice. So they finally got it right after realizing they built and tuned it incorrectly. So what if they incorporated these changes into future models. It just shows they’re not the master gunsmiths they claim to be.

    I’m all for high end 1911s and just dropped $3k on one that just works out of the box. I’d happily drop $6k on the right full custom 1911, but it won’t be from these clowns.

  23. Bottom line here is the commitment to quality, precision, (that 50 yard group, nice!) and doing the right thing by the customer are what stands out. The rest of the gun industry could learn a lot, because in my experience these things are all too rare.

  24. OK, I have read all the posts about Cabot model 1911’s and at this point, I am really wanting to see this finish of which you speak. I have seen some really nice finished guns over the years, like an early pristine Colt Python, early Dan Wesson revolvers, stuff out of Smith & Wesson’s custom shop that were magnificent to behold, and your description of the Cabot seems to surpass what I have seen. I can’t afford a 6K pistol, but if I could, if I had say just hit the 1/2 billion Powerball last night, then one of these would be on my list, before the private helicopter, and after the motor home. I like pretty guns, just never could justify the cost of owning one…. well I did spring for the John Wayne commemorative back in the day, but every thing else in the safe is basic stuff.

    • The “Royal Blue” finish standard on a Python was pretty special. I managed to get a Python in 1969 which didn’t work right, cylinder timing had a tiny hitch. I sent it back for service when I left for Air Force OTS for 3 months, with the bride all trained up to check the repair when it returned. She communicated that not only did it work right, but the finish was dramatically prettier than it had been when it left. When she came down to San Antonio to pick me up after OTS, with everything we owned in the world in our beat-up old car, my Python along with most everything else was stolen from the car, I never got to see it. I often wondered what they did to it.

  25. Great review JWT. Thanks RF for putting this together.

    Not a 1911 guy, or a high price gun guy, but if I were, someday, I’ll remember the Cabot effort.

    • You sure about that? Because I am willing to put good money down that I can make a Glock fail at least 50% of the time using some of the methods I used on the Cabbot. I’ll limp wrist a magazine of LSWC rounds and watch it fail over and over again.
      In fact, the other gun that we tested when I tried the Cabbot the second time was a Glock, and it failed repeatedly. Just in the last couple of months, I’ve had a 1911, a Glock, a Springfield XD, and an FN all fail in one form or another. And none of them could match the accuracy of this gun, not even close.

      • So in order to make a Glock malfunction you have to handle it incorrectly? So by definition, then, it’s not the gun’s fault. I have personally owned over 20 and have NEVER had a malfunction of any kind. Same goes for my XDs and M&Ps.

        • So not “never” then? You really mean as long as you hold them just right, and as long as you feed them the right ammo. That counts as “every time”?

  26. Kinda surprised you didn’t just buy the gun you reviewed 3 times…. I mean you and that gun belong together, not you and some other cabot 1911. Imagine how this one will feel, you rejected it twice; it got its act together and you still don’t want it. Imagine that poor 1911’s self esteem you monster!

  27. Love that they “made it good”. Hate that they didn’t ship it that way in the first place, OR the second place. I have to wonder if you’d given it one of the glowing R-type reviews initially, and glossed over the whole “damned thing isn’t reliable”, OR if you’d have been a private citizen, if you’d have gotten the same kind of service.

    Don’t have a dog in the hunt regarding the price – some folks want what they want and devil-damn the cost, and some folks have to scratch & stretch to feed themselves, let alone their weapons. If you buy a Cabot for EDC/SD/HD/”use” use, more power to you – just run a LOT of ammo through it until you CAN trust it with your life. Of course, the same thing goes for your Rock Island sub-5-bills 1911 as well! MY personal EDC is either a Ruger SR1911 or a Ruger LC9, depending on how I’m dressed that day – I DO trust them with my life, but I’ve proven to MY personal satisfaction that they’ll do what I want them to do, when I want them to do it. If I had a Cabot in the same category, it would have to do the same – not the one YOU shot, or the one RF shot, or the one we all saw at SHOT, but the one “I” was going to carry/use.

    That’s the point at the end of the day, folks – use what YOU trust, because it’s YOUR ass on the line when the fecal matter contacts the rotary oscillator!

  28. OK, here’s a couple tips for you guys on how to take better pictures of guns:

    1. Use a lightbox. Get some cardboard, line it with white paper, and have it able to be set up around a gun on three (and maybe even four) sides.

    2. Use indirect light. Bounce the light off the white paper inside the light box instead of pointing the light at the gun.

    Direct lighting makes taking pictures of high-finish guns very difficult.

    • Another tip –

      Outdoors, try to shoot in the ‘magic hour’ near sunset, that’s the indirect light DG was referring to.

  29. That’s a lot of effort. I’m still thinking a $1500 1911 and $4500 worth of reloading components is what scratches my itch at this price point.

  30. I’ll agree, that blued finish is mouthwatering. But why do they gotta go ugly it up with that cheesy cursive script “Black Diamond” and the trashy star cutouts in the trigger?

    • I agree, those are distractions from an otherwise superb finish.

      In general, I’m really not a fan of obtrusive rollmarks and attempts to put a lot of non-engraved froofery on a gun.

  31. For $6k a master gunsmith better be on call to come to you wherever you are in the continental US and fix your gun while you wait.

  32. So Mr JW Taylor, you started the first part of this test excited to possibly buy a Black Diamond and ended the test saying one maybe in the future. The question I’d ask, is why, after all this and apparently confirming this runs ‘perfectly’, would you not just buy this one? If you are genuine in your intent to buy it would seem better to buy the sorted pistol rather than have to go through it all again. Or, are you suggesting the changes brought about from Cabot’s analysis of your problems has now led to all of them working out of the box?

    This has been a fascinating series of articles, thankyou.

  33. My Hi-Point C9, has around a thousand rounds of fmj and jhp fired, ( including WWB..), for 13 minor stoppages ( 9 double-feed, 3 fail-to-feed and 1 stovepipe). My question is – how does that compare or reconcile, with a $6000.00 Cabot 1911? I bought my C9 in November 2012 for $149.95 online.

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