There’s something about a 1911 blasphemously chambered in 9x19mm that I love. And you should love it, too. It’s everything that’s good about the 1911 platform smoothed out and refined with a significantly lighter recoil spring and a silkier, flatter, faster shooting experience. This new entrant to the 9mm 1911 market comes from Alpha Foxtrot, and it looks and shoots like it costs a lot more than its $849 MSRP.
Thank you, Alpha Foxtrot, for not turning your version of “Old Slabsides” into a shooting billboard with engraving and logos all over the sides of the slide. Clean AF, as the kids say.
Both the Government and Commander flavors of AF’s AF1911 sport a Picatinny rail-equipped dust cover. Three slots on the Government model provide plenty of real estate for mounting any light or laser doodad that suits your needs.
A railed 1911 has a modern, tactical look (especially for a 108-year-old platform) that I love on some 1911 models and dislike on others. I’m not sure what it is that makes it look at home in some cases and like a slapped-on afterthought on others, but I know I like it on the AF.
Rounded slide serrations that look like they were done with a ball mill also set the AF1911 apart visually from the rest of the market. This is a unique look that I like; I just can’t decide if I like it more than some of the typical styles.
Aesthetics aside, I was initially worried that they wouldn’t provide sufficient grip. This turned out to be misplaced, as the crisp edges around each groove provide plenty of bite in most circumstances and the deep, wide channels allow you to squarsh your fleshy digits down in there.
Of course, one of the reasons a 9mm 1911 is so great is that they can get away with a very light recoil spring. The slide on a well-tuned 9mm 1911 racks effortlessly. It’s smooth and awesome.
TTAG’s test gun came with two spring weights so we could test and provide feedback. The lighter of the two was a beautiful thing for range loads, resulting in a soft-shooting, easy-to-handle, overall super pleasant and fun gun to shoot. With self-defense or otherwise hotter-loaded ammo, it was a bit undersprung and the stiffer spring provided more appropriate slide speeds. Still a much gentler spring than in a .45 ACP, mind you.
Field stripping the Alpha Foxtrot AF1911 involves removing the slide with the recoil spring assembly still inside — it’s a bull barrel design without the ability to release spring tension as the first step. No big deal, though, again thanks to the lighter spring rate. A hex wrench is used to unscrew the two-piece guide rod, at which point the spring can be removed. Then the spring plug, then the barrel slides out through the muzzle.
Fit between slide and frame as well as between barrel and slide is great. Again better than what is usually seen at this price point.
When the slide is in battery there is zero wiggle when pressing on the barrel hood or when trying to move the muzzle of the barrel around. Yet, the lockup is absolutely smooth with no stickiness whatsoever.
Likewise, there’s no wiggle at all in the slide-to-frame fit. Not vertically, not horizontally. Yet it slides smoothly with no sticking, no tight spots, no friction.
Basically, the AF1911 comes out of the box at precisely the Goldilocks point. It feels like where a too-tight, custom 1911 will eventually get to after it’s broken in enough to actually run reliably. Perhaps the locking lugs are not as tight as that, but I didn’t have to use lapping compound or 1,500 rounds of ammo to get them to play nice. And it doesn’t stick into battery. This is a butter smooth, perfectly-fit gun for the owner who expects it to work out of the box.
Fit and finish on the outside of the Alpha Foxtrot is just as nice. The forged 416 stainless steel slide, frame, and barrel are machined flawlessly, and the QPQ black (nitrided) finish on slide and frame is even and deep. 25 LPI checkering on the frontstrap and backstrap is clean and crisp without being overly sharp.
That’s a Wilson Combat magazine that comes with the $849 Alpha Foxtrot AF1911, by the way. It functioned flawlessly with the pistol throughout testing, never failing to feed or to lock the slide back on empty.
While I’ve been eyeing them for a long time, this was my first experience shooting a 1911 with Magpul grip panels, and I liked them a lot. They’re a great fit on the AF1911 considering the modern-yet-retro looks and the high-quality-yet-affordable price. The splash of OD Green on the otherwise jet black gun is a nice touch.
Controls on the AF1911 are fairly standard except for the extended, ambidextrous thumb safeties. Everything functioned smoothly and flawlessly.
Sights on the Alpha Foxtrot are 3-dots with some bright green paint. The dots don’t glow or do anything fancy, but they are eye-grabbing on the range. Personally I’d black the rear ones out, but that’s just me (and tons of other shooters).
While actual night sights would be an obvious upgrade, it would also raise the MSRP of the gun by a good hundred bucks.
The rear sight is elevation adjustable, and either sight can be drifted for windage. They use standard Novak cuts, so if you would have happily spent the extra hundred bucks for night sights don’t worry, you still can.
That AF logo on the top of the slide is pretty cool. I know I kicked this whole review off by applauding Alpha Foxtrot for not turning their slide into a billboard, and I stand behind that. If you’re going to do a logo, this is the spot.
JMB, huh? Nice touch.
On the range the AF1911 was a joy to shoot. It has a fantastic trigger — again far better than you’d expect at this price — that breaks cleanly in the 4-lb range. It’s also extremely controllable and handles amazingly well.
Accurate, too! The groups above were shot from an improvised rest (also known as a box of ammo) at 15 yards. With good eyesight or a laser I’m confident it would print groups like that at 25, too.
I had one failure-to-feed right off the bat — beginning of the first magazine — and after that it fed, fired, and ejected the next 497 rounds without flaw. I shot two boxes of IMI hollow points, mostly Armscor FMJs, and about half a box of the Winchester NATO and SIG ammo seen above. Nothin’ to it.
Other than loading the 10-round magazine 50 times, the AF1911 is a rare pistol in that you can shoot 500 rounds in a single sitting without getting fatigued. Light, crisp trigger, comfortable ergonomics, light felt recoil, and a light recoil spring all add up to a nice day on the range and a smile on the face.
With the exception of requiring a tool to disassemble it and a set of sights that don’t match my personal preference, I have nothing negative to say about the AF1911. I just cannot come up with anything to nit pick.
It’s a fantastic gun at a good price and it firmly checks the boxes for fit, finish, function, and fun. And accuracy. And good looks. The Alpha Foxtrot AF1911 is a great 1911, indeed.
Specifications: Alpha Foxtrot AF1911 Goverment 9mm Pistol
Barrel Length: 5 inches
Weight: 39 ounces (42 ounces with empty magazine, as measured by the author)
Frame: Forged 416 SS, 25 LPI Front Strap Checkering, Picatinny Railed Dust Cover
Slide: Forged 416 SS, Front and Rear Serrations
Barrel: 416 SS, Bull Barrel w/ Deep Target Crown
Safety: Beavertail Grip Safety, Extended Ambi Thumb Safety
Grips: Magpul MOE Grip Panels
Sights: Lo-Mount Novak Cut Adjustable Rear w/ Windage Adjustable Front
Trigger: Aluminum Curved w/ Over Travel Adjustment
Mainspring Housing: Flat w/ 25 LPI Checkering
Guide Rod: Two-Piece Full Length
Finish: QPQ Black
Price: $849 (available at Rainier Arms)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Style and Appearance * * * *
I’ve seen cooler looking 1911s, but very few are in this price range. The AF1911 is clean looking, yet still interesting. It’s modern, but hasn’t gone at all overboard.
Ergonomics * * * * *
I happen to love the 1911’s ergos, and the AF1911 is a good example with nice checkering, nice slide serrations, nice controls, and nice grips.
Customization * * * * *
It’s a 1911. Options for tinkering with it are nearly endless. And then it adds an accessory rail.
Accuracy * * * * *
For a sub-$1,000 1911 I’m calling this five stars. It shoots either as well as I’m physically capable or it’s better than that and I just couldn’t prove it.
Overall * * * * 1/2
I hesitate to call the AF1911 a five-star gun, but it’s nothing more than a set of sights that I like away from it. This is a great 1911 at a very good price.