Gun Review: Alpha Foxtrot AF1911 Government 9mm Pistol

Alpha Foxtrot AF1911 Government 9mm Pistol

Jeremy S. for TTAG

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.

Alpha Foxtrot AF1911 Government 9mm Pistol

Jeremy S. for TTAG

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.

Alpha Foxtrot AF1911 Government 9mm Pistol

Jeremy S. for TTAG

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.

Alpha Foxtrot AF1911 Government 9mm Pistol

Jeremy S. for TTAG

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.

Alpha Foxtrot AF1911 Government 9mm Pistol

Jeremy S. for TTAG

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.

Alpha Foxtrot AF1911 Government 9mm Pistol

Jeremy S. for TTAG

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.

Alpha Foxtrot AF1911 Government 9mm Pistol

Jeremy S. for TTAG

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.

Alpha Foxtrot AF1911 Government 9mm Pistol

Jeremy S. for TTAG

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.

Alpha Foxtrot AF1911 Government 9mm Pistol

Jeremy S. for TTAG

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.

Alpha Foxtrot AF1911 Government 9mm Pistol

Jeremy S. for TTAG

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.

Alpha Foxtrot AF1911 Government 9mm Pistol

Jeremy S. for TTAG

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.

Alpha Foxtrot AF1911 Government 9mm Pistol

Jeremy S. for TTAG

JMB, huh? Nice touch.

Alpha Foxtrot AF1911 Government 9mm Pistol

Jeremy S. for TTAG

Alpha Foxtrot AF1911 Government 9mm Pistol

Jeremy S. for TTAG

Alpha Foxtrot AF1911 Government 9mm Pistol

Jeremy S. for TTAG

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.

Armscor ammunition

Specifications: Alpha Foxtrot AF1911 Goverment 9mm Pistol

Caliber: 9x19mm
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.

comments

  1. avatar Hoyden says:

    squarsh or smuushy?

    Nice, just in time for letter to St Nickagunner

    1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      I type with an accent

  2. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

    That’s ironic. Or, fortuitous. As soon as I read the headline I thought, “Blasphemy!” Then the first sentence of the article said the same thing. 1911=.45 ACP. Unless you want to be legal in Latin America. Then it’s 38 Super. I once turned down a sweet deal on a Wilson Combat CQB. It was 9mm Parabellum.

  3. avatar Sam Hill says:

    Hate being against the grain. But, 9mm is a non caliber for me, kinda like the author with his sights, not that 9mm is bad, I like something else. The 9 size 1911 not that much lighter, smaller, easier to conceal, than a real 1911 and sure as I’m sitting here, somebody will say it has the same stopping power, it don’t. Well written review. Would very much like to see this guy do a side by side comparison of this pistol and the Rock Island Armory .380 acp 1911 affectionately called the Baby Rock.

  4. avatar I Haz A Question says:

    I agree with the author’s opinion that the gun looks sleek and clean without a “billboard” of text and model/patent numbers all over it. If I wish to add anything, I’ll choose my own thankyouverymuch, and perhaps have a small “We The People” laser engraved on the slide. Otherwise, simpler is better.

  5. avatar Unlicensed bozo says:

    Agree with 9mm comment. My range officer 9mm Springfield Armory shoots the same.

  6. avatar James Campbell says:

    At the 1k price point, I’m grabbing a NIB Para Ordnance 14.45 Black Ops, double stack 14 round mags of 45acp, the caliber God and John Moses Browning intended for a 1911. I have the GI Expert 14.45 that comes out to the range with the 50AE DEagle. Those are fun range sessions.

    1. avatar Dan W says:

      If your hands fit around the grip, the p14 is an awesome gun.

      1. avatar James Campbell says:

        Yes, the grip is a handful. Having XL hands makes it a good fit.

  7. avatar JB says:

    I have both a full size (all steel) and a commander size (aluminum frame) 9mm 1911, and I feel like the 9mm is a better aesthetic “fit” in the smaller commander format. Some advantages of a 9mm 1911 (besides what the author mentioned) are: you can fit 10 rounds in a 9mm magazine (the max number of rounds in my beloved Kalifornia) and not only do 9mm 1911’s fit perfectly in 45ACP 1911 holsters, commander size 1911’s generally also fit in holsters made for full size 1911’s.

  8. avatar Mark N. says:

    The only 9 mm 1911 gun I would want is the diminutive EMP. I have no doubt that these guns shoot very well; but I do not want to carry around that much mass on my hip except at the range. Even my 27 oz Kimber drags down my pants (its not the belt, its the “physique” or lack thereof).

  9. I’d take it down to four stars on the ergonomics for the asymmetrical grip panels. Those of us who practice with either hand tend to dislike those and change ’em out for symmetry ASAP. The ambidextrous safety is great, of course, as would be an ambi mag release.

    1. avatar Michael S. says:

      How are you slighting a 1911 on “ergonomics”? The grip panels are cheap and easily replaced. Most 1911 owners swap them out before even hitting the range. And the mag release? Come on… This is a 1911, not a plastic fantastic.

  10. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Gonna go see if the commander is available…

  11. avatar possum says:

    Alpha Foxtrot 471 XRay 9 come in over, iz funny ha ha.

  12. avatar Old Crank says:

    The gun term “flat shooting” has been misunderstood and misused quite a bit lately by younger gen writers.

    Flat shooting refers to bullet trajectory. It has nothing to do with muzzle rise or how the gun feels while shooting.

    1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      Except it does, because I’m clearly referring to the gun, not the cartridge. The term has been used to refer to a lack of muzzle flip for an extremely long time. Correctly so. Just like a gun can be soft shooting and a cartridge can be soft shooting, a gun can be flat shooting and a cartridge can be flat shooting. These things aren’t mutually exclusive. Likewise a tire can be flat and a musical note can be flat and the flavor of your soup can be flat. Your soup can also be hot and a chili can be hot and my wife can be hot. But if you just can’t handle one term applying to multiple contexts, I’ll have you know that 9mm is flatter shooting than .45 ACP.

  13. avatar Michael S. says:

    I wonder if something like the Wilson Combat one-piece, full length guide rod would fit this? That’s what I replaced the two-piece in my Springfield Loaded with, forever ago.

    It’s not that difficult to disassemble with a one-piece. Pull your magazine, push the plunger down with the mag’s baseplate, and proceed. Maybe the bull barrel makes that impossible as there’s no bushing.

    Also, the ball milling really makes things visually pop on this gun.

    1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      Yeah there’s no plunger. There is no method by which to remove the spring out the front of the slide.

  14. avatar WI Patriot says:

    “Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids”…

  15. avatar RedEagle says:

    1911 = .45
    1911> 9mm

    Fact is, this is ridiculous preference.

  16. avatar MrConservativeRight says:

    Whoop-Dee-doo! Nothing new here. A 1911 in 9mm is a Browning Hi-Power.

    1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

      that holds less.

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