I’ve come to my senses over the last few years when it comes to the 1911. I used to think of it as a dated and archaic design, but the more I learned about firearms design the more respect I have for the firearm. I now own a couple copies myself, a nice Wilson Combat and an okay Springfield. That Springfield always irked me a bit, though. The gun is inexpensive and it shows in the details, but it would take such little effort to make that ~$500 gun feel like a $1,000 gun.
When TISAS sent us an email and offered to send us a copy of their ZIG M1911 A1, I was looking forward to seeing if the Turks could succeed in providing a quality budget-priced 1911 where the Americans had failed. As soon as I opened the box, I was impressed.
The ZIG M1911 A1 ships with everything you see here. On the firearm itself, the finish is a slick feeling parkerization that makes the gun feel almost velvety in your hands. Everything looks proper and feels good.
One of the things that really irked me about the Springfield was the rough edges on the side of the trigger and the safety. Five seconds on a grinding wheel would have fixed that, but alas that time was not taken. With the ZIG M1911 A1, all of the control surfaces (like the trigger and the safety) feel properly rounded and without any roughness.
That finish extends to the slide and frame as well, but not the grips. Those are… okay. The cocobolo grips on a Springfield 1911 are better looking, but these Turkish walnut grips are functional. They have a light lacquer layer on them, and that’s about it.
With the rest of the external features, they are exactly what you would expect from a USGI style 1911. The sights are fixed and terrible, the grip safety is the A1 style without the beavertail, and the serrations on the slide are vertical instead of the more pleasing slanted version.
On the inside, you can tell that this is a budget 1911. The recoil spring is a bit undersized in diameter, the barrel is a little scratched up especially around the linkage, and overall the quality that you see in a Wilson Combat is pretty much nonexistent. That doesn’t mean that the gun is bad, it just doesn’t have the same look and feel as a multi-thousand dollar version and is something to keep in mind.
Out on the range, another issue rears its ugly head. The trigger is crisp and clean in terms of the takeup and the break, but it is extremely heavy. As TISAS is a European gun maker, they made their gun to European standards. That means instead of having a nice four or so pound break, the trigger breaks at a knuckle-busting 7.5 pounds. Getting accuracy out of a gun with that kind of trigger is difficult, but not impossible.
This five round group was the best I could get out of the gun, using admittedly terrible Independence ammunition at 15 yards. With a 7.5 pound trigger that’s about as good as I could expect, keeping everything within the X ring of a standard B-27 target. Mostly.
During that afternoon, I did run into a couple issues that made me question the reliability of the firearm.
The first problem I ran into was a failure to eject. This case got stuck during the extraction / ejection process, and was only removed after the judicious application of a pair of needlenose pliers. To be fair I was testing a new experimental magazine in the gun at this time and not using the one supplied by the manufacturer.
The reason was that the MEC GAR magazine included with the gun was allowing the rounds to nosedive into the feed ramp, and would cause the gun to jam. It only happened with the first couple rounds in the magazine, and the problem disappeared when I switched to a Wilson Combat magazine.
Moral of the story: the gun is very picky about magazines. Buy Wilson Combat mags and you’ll be fine.
The TISAS ZIG M1911 A1 is a budget handgun that gets more things right than most other 1911 handguns, but you get what you pay for. The gun is picky about which magazines it likes, and as with most things in life it prefers the more expensive ones. Can’t say I blame it.
It also doesn’t have the fit and finish of a nicer 1911 handgun, but it is functional and feels better than some of the other offerings on the market. I’d put it on par with the low end Springfield stuff, but Ruger’s SR1911 is still head and shoulders above this gun in almost every way.
If you just want a budget 1911 for shooting stuff or you’re looking for a good starting point to customize your own 1911, this is a fine choice at a good price. But if you want the best 1911 experience possible, you might want to spend a little more money.
Specifications: TISAS ZIG M1911
Caliber: 45 ACP
Magazine: One 8-Round Magazine included (takes standard 1911 mags)
Street Price: about $425
Ratings (out of five stars):
Accuracy: * * * *
For the price point, I can’t complain. My other 1911 handguns shoot better, and I believe this one would as well if the trigger was worked on just a little bit.
Ergonomics: * * * *
Everything feels smooth and silky, but the grips are a little wonky.
Reliability: * * *
The gun is finicky, but you can make it run reliably with the proper application of money.
Customization: * * * *
This gun’s parts seem to all be compatible with standard 1911 parts, so replacement shouldn’t be an issue. Some gunsmithing might be required to get everything to fit though.
Overall: * * * 1/2
You have to be aware of what you are buying here. As a budget 1911 for general farting around, this is about as good as it gets. But there are definitely much better options available for just a little more money, like the SR1911. Or the Springfield Range Officer series. A great beginner’s handgun for sure.