There are things that can be done when building a gun, but that most gun makers don’t do. It’s possible to push tolerances closer on the decimal point than most makers of 1911s do in practice. But then, look how well the GI guns worked.
The GI 1911s weren’t really as loose as their reputation. Sure, they rattled when they were shaken, but the locking lugs were tight enough to provide a standard accuracy of five shots in five inches at 25 yards.
Inspectors traveled in the gun makers’ plants during World War II with gauges to ensure they were manufactured to the proper tolerances. Wherever they may have been made, each World War II GI pistol’s barrel and slide as well as other small parts would fit those made by the others. That’s usually not the case with Springfield, Kimber, and Dan Wesson today.
The upper strata of 1911 handguns belongs to those makers that go the extra mile in precision and in building to closer tolerances. The result is a pistol with virtually no slop. The less play there is, the greater tightness as the pistol goes into battery each and every time it’s fired.
This results in less eccentric wear and greater accuracy. The Les Baer Custom 1911 HEMI 572 is about as far away from a GI pistol as possible and still call it a 1911. Sure it has parallel slab sides, a barrel and a straight-to-the-rear trigger compression, but the details are much different. And as the gun’s web page makes clear, it’s named for one of Les Baer’s favorite muscle cars.
Many makers have attempted to build a 1911 over the decades. I remember those made by Randall Firearms, Arcadia Machine and Tool, the original Auto Ordnance, among others. But I don’t remember them very fondly. Springfield survived among the upstart 1911 makers for many good reasons relating to giving the customer an affordable alternative to Colt that actually worked well.
The Les Baer 1911 HEMI 572 is based on the Les Baer Premier II. The 572 Hemi is a tribute to Les Baer’s drag racing heritage. Some folks just do everything well. I think the name fits as it is brass, bold, and exciting.
The first thing you notice about the HEMI 572 is the color scheme. Let’s just say it grew on me. The 572 is hard chromed while the slide stop, ambidextrous safety, magazine catch, hammer, trigger, plunger tube, sear pin, and recoil pin have a DuPont S Teflon coating.
The black VZ recon grips are very well done. Their aggressive texture and deep thumb recess near the magazine release offer plenty of adhesion and abrasion.
The pistol features Les Baer’s rugged adjustable rear sight and a fiber optic front tube. At one time I didn’t figure an adjustable sight was much good on a combat gun. The Les Baer sights are more rugged than Magnum revolver sights so the point is now moot.
I didn’t think front sights with fiber optic inserts were capable of as great a level of precision accuracy as standard black posts. I was wrong on that, or at least misinformed.
The pistol features 20 lines per inch front strap checkering and the slide has dual cocking serrations, front and rear. In all, this is a very well turned out pistol. It is tight — very tight — and difficult to rack at first. Tighter than the Springfield TRP, a tight production pistol, as a reference. It stays tight after hundreds of rounds, but it gets easier to manipulate over time.
The HEMI 572 is supplied with two magazines and comes in a plain cardboard box. This pistol doesn’t need a presentation box.
I took the time to dry fire the pistol about one hundred times when I got it before taking it to the range together. I cycled the well-oiled pistol each time I dry fired, not merely cocking the hammer but also racking the slide.
The Les Baer 1911 HEMI 572’s trigger is a super-sharp and crisp with a 3.5 pound pull weight and literally no trace of creep or backlash. This is a truly great trigger on a very good handgun. If you feel you’re limited by your present pistol and can shoot right up to its intrinsic accuracy, this is the handgun for you.
I have fired the HEMI 572 just short of 800 times with various ammunition and I have a few observations. The trigger action, sights, fit of the hammer, safety, and magazine release are truly excellent. The grip safety, with “tactical bump” properly releases its hold on the trigger halfway into compression.
The trigger breaks exactly the same every pull. While the front strap checkering isn’t uncomfortable you know you are holding something raspy and it isn’t going to slip in a sweaty hand.
Baer’s advises that their pistols doesn’t require a break in period. That said, I have owned a Monolith that required a break-in and a Premier II that did not. In my experience, all machinery needs some break-in. With good lubrication and full power ammunition you may not need it.
The HEMI 572 is, of course, a .45 ACP as John Moses Browning intended. With low operating pressure, a full powder burn with most any load, and its proven wound potential, why mess with success?
With several thousand cartridge cases and a good supply of cast lead bullets, I was also able to obtain enough Remington UMC 230 grain ball to break the HEMI 572 in. Instead of a rough break-in period, I simply had a pleasant evaluation for more than one hundred rounds. There were no failures to feed, chamber, fire, or eject. I did not have to nudge the slide closed.
The initial evaluation involved primarily firing at man-sized targets at 7, 10, and 15 yards. Put the HEMI’s sights on target, then pull the trigger straight to the rear and you will get a hit where you want it. The pistol feels very solid in the hand with plenty of abrasion in the checkering on those grips and comes with a Les Baer accuracy guarantee of a 3-inch 5-shot group at 50 yards.
Intrinsic accuracy or not, very few shooters may approach that standard. I fired the pistol from a solid bench rest firing position, taking my time, concentrating on each shot. Not exactly what a competition or personal defense pistol is made for, but we all need to understand what a pistol is capable of.
I used the Remington UMC range ammo as well as the Remington 230 grain Golden Saber personal defense loads. A lot of folks don’t realize just how accurate the Golden Saber really is. It’s well-proven in institutional testing.
To broaden the test I also used a 200 grain hard cast SWC bullets over enough Titegroup powder for 790 fps. With this load the HEMI functioned, but failed to lock open on the last shot…not unexpected with a light target load.
The 230 grain ball load was the least accurate. The 230 grain Golden Saber exhibited several 1.6 inch five-shot groups at 25 yards. The handload was a joy to fire and produced excellent 1.4-inch patterns in five-shot groups. In other words, this baby can walk.
I am just beginning my relationship with the HEMI and am looking forward further exploring what kind of performance this pistol is capable of. But the question of whether the pistol is worth its price can only be answered by stating that performance, fit, finish, and accuracy are all truly faultless. I am looking forward to mastering this handgun.
There are pistols that cost quite a bit less than the Les Baer 1911 HEMI 572 that have enough performance, and enough finish. Is the HEMI worth its premium price? That, of course, is up to the shooter. As far as I’m concerned, it’s worth every penny.
Specifications: Les Baer Custom 1911 HEMI 572
Caliber: .45 ACP
Action: Single action
Magazine Capacity: 8 rounds
Finish: Hard chrome, Dupont S coating on accents
Sights: Adjustable rear, fiber optic front
Grips: VZ Grips
Barrel: National Match
Weight: 40 ounces
Ratings (out of five stars):
Reliability * * * * *
No question…and no break in. Don’t be disappointed if your Les Baer demands a three hundred round break-in before it becomes completely reliable, but the HEMI 572 ran perfectly right out of the box.
Accuracy * * * * *
More accurate than I can shoot. This is a gun will test your limits, not the other way around.
Ergonomics * * * * *
Being a 1911 the grip fits most hands well and it features the straight-to-the-rear trigger pull that’s so ideal for just about every shooter. It’s almost as if John Moses Browning knew what he was doing.
Fit and Finish * * * * *
If we had more stars to give, the HEMI 572 would get them
Concealed Carry * * * *
It conceals as well as any government model .45, which is to say it’s a large, heavy handgun. Still, there’s something about a 1911 that makes it carry better than it should.
Overall: * * * * *
This is a truly exceptional 1911 in every way. Its price will keep it out of the reach of most shooters, but for those who are able, the Les Baer Custom HEMI 572 is about as good as a 1911 gets.