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When TTAG announced the arrival of the new Wilson Combat X-TAC Compact, more than a few members of our Armed Intelligentsia wondered why in the world anyone would pay $2680 for a pistol. (And that, 1911 fans, is a non-customized “entry level” model.) Sid put it succinctly: “The price! My God! The price!” So I asked John May to justify the cost of his employer’s 1911s. Billy Boy’s marketing maven sent the following bullet points explaining “why Wilson Combat Pistols are more highly valued than other makers pistols”:

1. All of our pistols are hand built, one at a time from the best components. Wilson Combat has more collective experience than any other custom builder. Calling on that experience and the world’s best components gives you the best final products.

2. The only way to get the best components is to machine them from the best raw materials and use modern CNC machines that hold the parts to the highest possible tolerances. We have simply made huge investments in this area so we can continue to improve the quality of every component that we use and every accessory that we sell.

3. Our Customer Service is the best in the industry. A simple statement guides our service: “You will not just be satisfied, you will be extremely satisfied” and it guides us every day. We service not only the original customer but our service follows the pistol after the sale even if it years down the road.

And then I saw my gun. Now I’m a believer. There’s nothing like racking the slide of a Wilson Combat gun. Well, there is, but there’s a line between gun porn and plain old porn.

Anyway, just don’t tell my daughters, whose champagne dreams and caviar wishes have suddenly become Budweiser naps and pork rind aspirations.

Meanwhile, Cameron Hopkins over at American Rifleman reckons there’s another reason to pay a few grand for a Wilson in the hand.

Fueling the desire to own high-quality guns might be caused by a demand for tangible investment instruments, which is pushing gold and silver to record highs. “People are scared,” Bill added. “They’ve seen their paper investments go to nothing while gold has risen. Guns are the same.”

Hmmm. If you’re looking for investment-grade firearms, a new Wilson Combat 1911 may not be the way to go. It’s a great time to buy important shotguns, for example. But who said justifications had to make sense?

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  1. My buddies look at me like I’m crazy for paying $1200 for a 1911 while they carry Glocks they paid $400ish for, So I won’t judge someone for paying $3000 for a 1911. It’s your money so enjoy your gun! If other people don’t get it, screw ’em.

  2. I am very satisfied with the X-TAC I picked up earlier this year. While I did pay over $1000 extra compared to a regular 1911, I am still in awe by how darn well this gun shoots.

    I can reach out and touch targets at 25 yards and still keep every shot inside the 8 ring on a 25-yard target. I cannot do that with other 1911’s I have had the pleasure of shooting. Awesome gun, and one very satisfied customer. Definitely worth the price in my eyes.

  3. I rarely go cheap on anything I purchase when it comes to firearms. But I am sorry; 4k on a pistol?

    Well, I would find a hard time justifying that type of money on anything that couldn’t also flip a pancake, and had some type of sucking attachment shaped like Bar Refaeli’s mouth.

  4. In terms of overpriced items these are fairly low on the list. Do I think they’re overpriced? Yup, But I’ll spend a few grand extra to get a more powerful engine in my car when the base model will function and Some people spend 5k+ on watches when a timex keeps better time so I’m not going to harass people for how they spend their money as long as I’m not the one paying for it. If I was absolutely loaded I’d probably get one but until I reach that point I’ll pick up 2-3 other firearms to add to my collection first.

  5. With a box of ammunition costing a minimum of 20 bucks, and that one needs to fire 500 rounds before a firearm is “broken in” I am of a mind that buying a cheap gun is not a good investment.

    Four large, though. Man, that’s some scratch. I’d be afraid to carry it lest I drop it, lose it, scratch it…

  6. I’ve dropped a grand-plus several times on new guns from SIG and Para Ordnance. While these are very nice guns, I still see missing attention to detail that I would gladly pay more for if I could have afforded it. So I can absolutely see folks paying that sort of money for a Wilson.

    Of course, if I did have three big to buy a 1911 with, it would be going straight to Mr. Lippard. Because that would be the coolest gun addition to the Fritz blaster family.

  7. I definitely wish I’d skipped some of the cheaper guns I’ve bought and saved the scratch for higher quality items.
    Although it’s not pricey, I do consider my Gen 4 Glock well made, my GP100 quite nice, but my Kimber is head and shoulders above the rest.
    It’s the combination of accuracy, reliability and overall visuo-tactile feel that reminds me it was worth what I paid.

  8. $4000? Shoot, that’s nothin’. Price a few high-end shotguns or a double rifle. Or, if you really want to spend some money, try taking up car racing as a hobby.

    Any well-designed, well-built object is going to cost more than a mass-produced counterpart. I make my living producing a hand-made luxury product, and I can tell you, if you do it right the craftsmanship will show and folks will pay for the privilege of owning it.

  9. Worth is relative.

    A millionaire can buy a Rolex and think hell, why not? My basic watch tells me the time when I look at it, so what more do I need?

    Would I buy a 4 grand 1911 if I didn’t have to think about money? Sure, why not? Would I save up now for one? No. I’d much rather have a diverse selection of quality yet sanely priced guns. I’m of the opinion that you should buy quality if you’re going to buy at all, but eventually there’s a point where that quality will only be needed if I was going to shoot competition or need it for a very specific, uncompromising purpose.

    Me, I just like to shoot, and I like to be prepared. So no, I wouldn’t pay that much for one pistol.

  10. I love 1911s. I really do. And I appreciate good tools. I will pay a premium for a reliable tool. Nothing can destroy a small business more quickly than unreliable tools.

    I think Wilson builds a great 1911. I have handled a few and lusted for them. The response above is reasonable but I still think most shooters would be better served buying a base model 1911 and spending the remainder on fine-tuning and bullets for practice.

    If you have the money for a X-TAC, be happy with your purchase. But from a rational consumer perspective, it seems a little crazy.

  11. If that’s the price that Wilson Combat wants to charge, I wish them well. Few can afford one, just as few can afford Porsche. I do have to wonder what’s being gained. If you want a tack driver for punching paper in a competition, go with Wilson. My carry gun is for self defense. I need it to be able to put rounds in the center of an attacker at ranges in which I can legitimately claim to fear for my life. My Charles Daly 1911, at $300 used, serves that need.

  12. Yes, because it’s like buying a rolls royce. All the guns I like are always expensive, and you usually get what you pay.

  13. That is a lot of money, but… if I had purchased every firearm I wanted in the last 25 years, or better yet 3 each, I would show a much better return on my investment than throwing it down the rathole of mutual funds. Which is what I did instead, and don’t I feel smart?

    Guns, ammo, gold. Real property. Real investments.

  14. An analogy, perhaps….

    If you were mountain climbing, would you rather have

    a) a $10 coil of strong rope you bought at walmart
    b) a $100 coil of climbing rope.

    Both will get the job done, mind you, but if it’s my butt hanging off the mountain you can bet I’ll be shelling out the hundred bucks for the good stuff.

  15. I’ve got a WC Professional that I bought with only a 100 rounds down the pipe. I sure didn’t pay $4k for it, I even bought a like new Les Baer TRS from the same man. He had went through a 1911 phase he said. I guess I’m still in mine. I have several high-end 1911’s and the Wilson is right at the top for quality, a really well put together pistol, a sweet shoot’in tack driver. And like someone else mentioned the firearms are holding value better than our 401k investment.

  16. For those of us with kids (and braces and college to save for) that four grand could set you up with Ye Olde Compleat Basick Gonne Collection: a solid .308 bolt with a good scope, a Mossberg 590, a Glock and an entry-level AR or Arsenal AK, all with a sling or holster and some spare magazines.

    AND a bunch of ammo to become proficient with each of them.

  17. If it was one of two or three guns you own I think it’s justified. A quality machine, it won’t be lacking in any areas at all.

  18. I’ve been told time and time again to go buy a cheap Phillipine-made Armscor/RIA 1911. Why? Because if you put $400 worth of parts and some attention into it, you’re going to get 100% reliablity and competition-worthy accuracy. If I can spend ~$1000 and some time with my dentist’s tools (yeah, he’s a pistolsmith too) to get that kind of 1911, why on earth would I spend thousands of dollars more for a nicer finish and a “custom” shop’s laser engraving?

    Even if I didn’t have any confidence with modifying a firearm, I still wouldn’t spend this kind of money on a “value-focused” (as I’ve seen other >$2000 Wilson pistols referred to) 1911. There are other custom shops selling the same level of 1911–shops I hold in as high, if not higher, regard–with other unique innovations, for an average of $500 less.

  19. Is a grilled cheese sandwich worth $28,000? No. Is a grilled cheese sandwich that coincidentally resembles the Virgin Mary worth $28,000? Apparently so. Goods are worth whatever someone is willing to pay for them.

    Mas Ayoob once showed up at the range with a $2700 Les Baer in tow. He let us run it through some IDPA stages in exchange for comments. When I handed it back to him, I smiled and said “nice gun, but I’m happy with my Kimber.”

  20. If you want the best you pay the price! Is this a good price point? NO….its a great value for what it is…..hand crafted precision machinery, like a Rolls Royce….OOh there expensive too! So If your looking for a Toyota there are a lot of options, Remington, Ruger, lots of GOOD 1911’s out there….but the Best? They cost money.

  21. I have a $700 Springfield milspec. It has put a round down range with every trigger pull; It has combat accuracy (It hits the simulated torso 90% of the time); and its less tight fit means it can get dirty and still get the job done. Is the the Wilson Combat a better product? yep. Would I take it if somebody gave it to me? Sure would! But spend my own money Hell no!

    The kind of person who buys a $4K handgun is the kind person who spent $4k on a stereo because it has superior performance in a range beyond the capability of human hearing

  22. Hello Robert,
    Thanks, on a related note, I don’t want to start a war of words, just trying to get accurate info from experienced 1911 owners. Been looking at several brands, but lately I’ve read several articles and reviews that say you have to shoot a couple hundred rounds of ball ammo to “break it in” and that even after that, they’re not very receptive to chambering JHP’s without buying different mags like Wilson Combat. Break it in? Difficulty chambering JHP’s? You’d think a $800-$1500 pistol would be ready to go. Don’t get me wrong, I love everything about these guns. They’re accurate, feel awesome in your hand, and on top of that, absolutely beautiful. I’m just wondering if the info I stated above is true, and if so, are they worth it.
    Keep up the posts!
    To win 200% bet game

  23. I own a Wilson Combat Professional. I would love to have endless money…but don’t. I work hard, make a pretty good living and am a firm believer in spending my money on quality…once. The physical craftsmanship and performance quality of my WC 1911 is second to none and the value of top notch customer service, well, it’s invaluable.
    When I decided to spend $2600 on the weapon, I considered several things; first and foremost the purpose of the weapon is for protection. Protection of my family and myself. You can’t really put a price on that. Although my Glock has proven itself to me over the last 21 years, (and LEO/military for countless years) as a reliable tool for that job…there came a time where I just wanted more conceable tool. I chose to seak out a quality 1911 Frame .45 and after a lot of research chose the WC. It really is their comprehensive package that helped me make the decision and I’m really happy with my choice.
    As to the question of the OP, I think you can dismantle or make a solid argument to either side…but, for me and my way of thinking…yes…a Wilson Combat is worth $4000 if you can afford to swing it. But, for me…$2600 purchased a perfect WC.

  24. You bet, no questions asked worth the money. WC is more than a precision firearm hand made to perfection, it is also a work of art. If you ever purchase one, and really get the model you want, you will never part with it. Only a handful of artisans in this entire country are capable producing this kind of perfection.

    You are also buying a piece of home grown American heritage with is worth a lot to me.

    Another way to consider this question is looking at WC’s backlog which I believe is around 12 to 18 months and should clearly answer your question in a way that simple words probably cannot. If you have to stand in line for at least one year to buy something, it has to be special.

    Dealers cannot even get these guns.

  25. Nice, I am going to get one. I just got a Les Baer Concept VIII. I love high quality pieces. I better order a WC quickly if waiting time is 18 months. Worth it or not, it doesn’t matter as long as people is willing to pay that price and you can afford it. I never carry my high end pieces. I only carry my sig, glock, S&W, springfield and HK. Yep, it seems I already had a lot of them. Yes, I totally agree that we are easily lost multi $100k in so called investment such as retirement fund, 401k … Why don’t we spend them on something make us happy 😉 BTW, is there any other suggestions for the high end fire arms? If you can have three pieces high end ones without consider money, what would it be? Thanks.

  26. One thing that you have to keep in mind is this–handguns in general are ridiculously overpriced–even a $400 handgun. Thanks to our ignorant, politically charged world that we live in, the starting point is going to be high. Take a look at Mt. Everest for example. Sure, it’s almost 30,000 feet above sea level, but the mountain itself is already WAY above sea level at the base. LONG gone are the days when you could walk in to a sporting goods store and walk out with a $25 pistol that will function. I’m not a millionaire, but I own two Rolex’s and every day when I put one on, I can’t tell you how much I enjoy looking at it and wearing it. So, you just have to consider all aspects and go one way or the other. If you get a WC and can’t bear the weight of the buyer’s remorse, you can probably sell it for what you paid, considering that at that point, WC’s long wait time is your friend (nobody likes to wait 18 months for something). P.S. — I’m honestly considering selling my watches and buying a WC and pocketing the remaining coin. Hey, savor all areas of life and go for it!

  27. Just ask any person who owns a Wilson combat if he would be willing to sell it back for what he paid for it and 99% of them would say no. I own 3 of them including a tactical supergrade and a commemorative WC that is one of the first ten made. They are in a class by themselves. The competition is biting at their heels as Ed Brown, Christiansen, Nighthawk, etc also make great pistols but WC is still the best. Now, lots of people who actually buy a WC for the first time end up not using it as a carry weapon. Figure that out. That’s how beautiful they are, most don’t want to take a chance they end up in an evidence room, stolen, or damaged by dropping, etc. my advice on buying one: if you have to save up to buy one then don’t buy one. There are more important priorities in life like the kids college, a house, etc. if you have plenty of cash and want the best drop 5 grand and buy a supergrade. It will make you envied by all those who buy plastic furniture like Glocks, FNs, H&k, etc. Oh, and did I forget that they are hand made in Arkansas using Americans. Real Americans, not like Glock that uses Turks in Austria. Yup, I read the biography of Gaston Glock.

  28. Selling your two Rolex’s to buy a WC? Looks like you are the one with the buyers remorse. Save your money for a rainy day. People like you shouldn’t be buying 4000 dollar pistols.

  29. I just got my W.C. – I’m going to save up for my 2nd. one. Why ? I am using my money that i use to spend on smokes. I own lots of 1911 Sig-Kimber- glocks. Wilson Combat blows them away !!

  30. I had the WORST experience with Wilson. Ordered a ULC Carry through my local approved dealer and waited over a year and a half with ZERO status updates or correspondence from their company. Absolutely terrible. They quoted me $2100 when I ordered the weapon. Well, I held them to task and they finally revealed that “oops, the Wilson rep that we used to work with has been gone from the company for over a YEAR”. Are you kidding me? Bill Wilson, if you want my thousands for one of your guns, you had better damn well provide better customer service than that. By the way, when the new rep was contacted, he offered me the same gun (plus a now 12 month build time) for $2800! That’s right; they wanted another $700 from me for their screwup because the market was good for them. Greedy, selfish, crummy customer service. Their guns may put men on the moon but I’m eternally disgusted with Wilson Combat. Terrible!

  31. You know I read all the remarks here and I have to say it comes down to one thing. What ever you are buying there is always going to be some one out there that does it as an “art” and makes it better than anyone else. I do not own a Wilson but when looking at guns one afternoon I held a qcb light weight in my hand and just the balance and the feel of the gun set it apart from anything I have looked at. I like the water and enjoy sailing and you can get a production boat of about 45 feet for 400k or you can get an custom boat that has the finest materials that takes over 600 man hours to build and spend 2.5m. I would bet that if you look at what you get back after owning these guns for 5 years I would say you would get more of your money back as an investment than you would on just any production gun. Worth 4000? Ask anyone who owns a Rolls Royce and they say they are worth the wait. If some of you guys are waiting 18 months for a gun…..then I’d say Wilson is doing exactly what it’s designed to do.

  32. I used to have a CQB full size used it one once to kill a heffer that was intent on running me down. At first i thought I could out run her but decided I couldnt so I turned Drew and fired all in slow motion bullet hit her strait between the eyes 2″ high rite where I wanted it to dropped her dead
    A cows brain is roughly 3-4″ across
    Now I since have gotten rid of the wilson and bought 5 pistols since then and I regret selling my CQB every day and the ones I have now I believe couldn’t make that shot best one I have currently is a Fns tactical

  33. I have two Wilson Combats. I also have some Ed Brown’s and some Les Baer pistols. If anyone who actually shoots regularly, say 100+ rounds a month – every month, holds, looks closely at, racks the slides WITHOUT abandon, really FEELS the action and shoots many, many rounds through these fine pistols you will get lots of different opinions. My favorite pistol is an officer sized, bull barrel Wilson CQB in 9mm. It is incredibly smooth and I carry it every day. My Baer’s and Brown’s . . . I don’t carry them, they shoot as accurately as I am capable of shooting. Why do I carry the Wilson? Because I am very confident and accurate with it, and it feels SO DAMNED NICE in my hand. Sell it? NO WAY!

  34. I, like many of you own a great many pistols of differing manufacturing and calibers. As a young man I put my first pistol, a Ruger Super Single Six, on layaway and paid it off in six months. I still own and shoot that gun. My first WC was a Proffesional and I will never forget the young salesman’s face when he said to me ” you’re going to carry this as a concealed weapon aren’t you!” Yes I did indeed. That was a few years back and I now have six WC 45s on my CCW permit. I won’t carry anything else as in that critical moment I don’t want my hand to have to think” What type of hand gun are you carrying today?” I so look forward to shooting each new WC 45 at LEAST 300 rounds before range testing with tactical Ammo in preparation for concealed carry. The folks at Wilson Combat have always been great to work with no matter my need or request. This has been my experience over several years, multiple firearms and many thousands of rounds.

  35. The whole price argument with regard to self defense is hilarious. People have no idea that they are in for at least $10,000 just to avoid a grand jury. They will be out several hundred thousand if the locals decide they do not like you and/or want to make a name for themselves. Lawyer time will be around $500 an hour. So…we are really talking between one and a quarter lawyer hours (Glock) versus eight lawyer hours (Wilson Combat). Consider a carry gun to be just an expense. Never mind that some states will take all your guns if you are charged. Also, I know many guys with a tall stack of guns. They could have had several really nice custom guns for what they paid, but they are all about quantity. I even ask them if they would buy a WC. Almost universally, the reply is “I cannot afford it.” Never mind the $15,000 worth of guns in their gun safe as they write the check for another high end AR-15, 20 more mags and a case of ammo.

  36. Great topic and my 2 cents. The person who states my life is worth the cost of a WC is sleeping with a 10 to 2 and waking up with a 2 to 10. As a collector of fine guns and knives…I spend alot of money on custom knives….the quality of steel and edge geometry is what you are paying for…it’s hand made. Anything hand made is going to cost more. The real question is not price but VALUE. Is there value with spending this much on a WC…yes, yes there is….my entire contention for over 20 years is there is absolutely no value in spending $500 on a GLOCK. If $500 is all I had and I needed a gun NOW then perhaps but to find quality you don’t need to spend 4k. I prefer Sig, Walther, and FN….I think not only is the quality right but the value is most certainly there as well. The Thousand dollar gun reaches a much bigger market…meets a greater need and therefore I would say the value is there. As far as cheap guns are concerned that to me are overrated but capture great marketing attention would be GLOCK and COLT. Both suffer in quality but have no doubt reached the pinnacle of REPUTATION.

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