Courtesy Turnbull Restoration
Previous Post
Next Post

I have two powerful memories related to the Model 1911 Government issue Colt .45 ACP, one associated with my Dad and the other with my father-in-law. My Dad was a firearms Instructor for the Air Force. He was a passionate hunter, shooter, reloader and collector of all types of guns. He passed on that passion to his two sons.

I can remember as a small boy struggling to squeeze my Dad’s service pistol with enough pressure to disengage the grip safety, while trying to maintain some semblance of an accurate sight picture. I rarely hit the target, let alone the black rings.

I also seem to remember that the gun did its very best to buck itself out of my small hands. A very clear memory was my conclusion that shooting my Dad’s .45 ACP was not my idea of fun.

In stark contrast to my Dad, I never witnessed my father-in-law, Grover Edward ‘Buddy’ Swinson, shoot a firearm. I don’t remember hearing him voice a negative viewpoint about shooting or hunting, I just don’t think he had any interest in the sport.

So, it’s ironic that my strongest recollection of the .45 ACP is actually associated with Buddy and his use of a Model 1911 during service in the WWII Pacific Theater. It’s even more ironic that I remember an event that, according to Buddy, was one of the dumbest things he ever did.

Buddy was an Army medic whose unit followed the Marines into Okinawa during Operation Iceberg. Some days after the successful invasion, Buddy’s unit had set up a camp into which they were receiving wounded personnel. It was from this camp that Buddy and a fellow Army medic observed a Japanese soldier entering one of the many caves that pock-marked the ridge above their position.

Apparently, their camp had been repeatedly fired upon by snipers who had taken up positions in these caves. American soldiers had been wounded, some fatally, from the work of these snipers.

In Buddy’s words: “It pissed us off to see this guy crawling into the cave so that he could shoot at us!” That was, according to Buddy, what prompted his and his friend’s ‘stupid’ episode.

Buddy grabbed his M1911, while his friend armed himself with a carbine. As they headed up the slope toward the cave they realized that there was little to no cover to hide their approach. Buddy referred to this as “the third most stupid thing I’ve ever done”.

Fortunately, the Japanese soldier didn’t come to the cave mouth while the two medics struggled up the hill. Upon reaching the ledge below the cave mouth, Buddy carried out “the second most stupid thing”; he and his friend stuck their heads into the cave mouth to see what the enemy soldier was doing.

The two medics’ luck had continued. The Japanese sniper was distracted while lighting a cigarette. They ducked back down, and then Buddy raised his sidearm above his head and pointed the muzzle in the general direction of the enemy combatant. His friend did the same with his carbine and they blindly emptied their firearms into the cave.

This was followed by “the stupidest thing”. They slowly raised their heads to see what had happened. Yet again they were more than fortunate because their indiscriminate shooting had fatally wounded the Japanese sniper.

When Buddy finished relating this story he said that it gave him no joy to kill another person. But, like so many other servicemen and -women, he put the safety of others ahead of himself.

This was the rich heritage – from both of my ‘Dads’ – upon which I reflected when I got the opportunity to review a Turnbull Government Heritage Model 1911.

Courtesy Turnbull Restoration

This Model 1911 isn’t what I have come to call a ‘Turnbull-ized’ firearm (or in their parlance, Turnbull finished). Rather, it’s built from the ground up by their craftsman.

Turnbull’s only been making these 1911 pistols since 2015, based on the classic, full-sized Colt 1911 used during WWI.

Having previously reviewed Turnbull rifles (Winchester Models 1886 and 1892), I expected to be impressed by the craftsmanship. It seems, however, that I will always be surprised by the beauty of a Turnbull firearm.

That was my experience when I opened the hard-sided shipping case in which the Heritage Model 1911 was nestled.

As usual, the bone charcoal color case hardened finish (in this instance, on the frame of the handgun) was the first aspect that caught my eye.

As I looked further, the standard 5-inch barrel, charcoal blued slide as well as the smaller metal parts . . .

…the tritium Kensight sights . . .

…beavertail grip safety, Commander-style hammer . . .

…classic double-diamond hand-checkered walnut grips . . .

…and the checkered front strap came into focus.

As with Turnbull’s rifles, everyone present when I opened the shipping case gave out a collective sigh of admiration.

Range Analysis

I think there would be little debate that the Turnbull Government Heritage Model 1911 is a beautiful firearm. And, maybe for some, it would be enough to have this wonderful handgun as a showpiece in their collection.

But, I was taught to consider firearms as more than just artwork. And, besides, what’s the use of being given the privilege of reviewing guns if you don’t also get to smell combusted powder? With that mindset, I headed to the range.

Turnbull Government Heritage Model 1911

Those who looked through my review of the Manurhin MR73 might recall a disclaimer about the groups obtained – that the portable backstops had been removed from the pistol range leaving me with 42-yard fixed target stands.

Well, that was still the situation when I arrived to put the 1911 through its trial. But, this time I knew the value of firing from such an odd distance. If I could obtain decent groups at that range, it would be straightforward to achieve much smaller groups at standard self-defense ranges.

At least that is my explanation, and I am sticking to it.

Hornady provided two types of ammunition for my analyses: 200 grain XTP and 185 grain Critical Defense loads. The muzzle velocity for these loads was 929 ± 11 fps and 1018 ± 8.0 fps, respectively.

The felt recoil of the loads matched the velocities, with the Critical Defense rounds producing a noticeably greater ‘buck’. These loads brought back memories of my childhood. However, this time around I found the recoil enjoyable rather than frightening; it helps to have larger hands.

The groups obtained with the 20 XTP cartridges were very similar to those produced by the Critical Defense rounds (averaging ~4 inches in diameter from 42 yards).

The six-shot group reflects the largest diameter obtained and the three-shot group the smallest.

Simply put, the accuracy of this Turnbull reproduction of the Model 1911 was excellent. It must be remembered that the groups shown in the two photographs were obtained by firing at targets at a distance of 42 yards.

I can state unequivocally that the tritium Kensight sights were very bright, and thus extremely helpful for accuracy. Yet, when all is said and done, they’re still just open sights. Even so, the results were outstanding.

A necessary confession is that I expected to have to write that, though beautiful, this Model 1911 from Turnbull Restoration wasn’t wonderfully accurate. Thinking back on my Dad’s sidearm, I did not remember great accuracy, even when he was the shooter.

I mentioned this negative expectation to a number of friends prior to my range work. Needless to say, I am very pleased that I will have to eat crow. The Turnbull Government Heritage Model 1911 is definitely a gun you will want to show off to your gun aficionado friends. It’s also a handgun that you will want to take to the range as often as possible.


Specifications: Turnbull Government Heritage Model 1911

Caliber: .45 ACP
Barrel Length: 5 inches
Overall Length: 8.75 inches
Weight: 2lbs 5oz
Finish: Bone charcoal color case hardened frame, charcoal blued slide, charcoal blued small metal parts
Capacity: 7+1
MSRP: $3,225.00


Ratings (out of Five Stars):

Style: * * * * *
There is no military arm more classic than the Colt Model 1911. The members of the Turnbull workshop have taken the classic 1911 paradigm and added their own unique artistry. The Turnbull craftsmanship is evident on every aspect of this beautiful pistol.

Fit and Finish: * * * * *
This pistol is characterized by the unique Turnbull finish: bone charcoal color case hardened frame and charcoal blued slide and smaller metal parts. The walnut grips are adorned with double-diamond checkering. Likewise, the front strap is heavily checkered. And with the hand-fitting that goes into a Turnbull firearm, there’s no Colt rattle in this 1911.

Accuracy * * * * *
In a word, fantastic. Diameters obtained at 42 yards, with two different bullet weights and loads, averaged ~4 inches. The Kensight sights are very clear and bright and helped tremendously with aiming.

Reliability: * * * * *
I had no mechanical problems during my range analysis. No failures to feed, extract or eject.

Overall * * * * *
From its superlative fit and finish to its dead-on accuracy, the Turnbull Government Heritage Model 1911 is a pistol anyone would be proud to own. Just don’t relegate it to safe queen duty, no matter how good it looks. This is a gun that demands to be fired.



Mike Arnold writes about firearms and hunting at his blog Mike Arnold, Outdoor Writer.

A note of thanks to the following people, without whose generosity this review would not have been possible: Mike Nelson, Paul Downs and Doug Turnbull from Turnbull Restoration; Tom McElwayne (Shooters Den); Tracy Ledbetter (Gun Racks for Less); and Neal Emery (Hornady Manufacturing)

All images courtesy the author unless otherwise credited. 



Previous Post
Next Post


  1. An actual “heritage model” Colt 1911 would not have tritium sights and would run about $700, I e., the Springfield Milspec. This is just another let’s build a really expensive 1911 and say it’s just like the one grandad used in the Great WWII.

    • Dear Turnbull,

      Please do not send this piece to tdiinva. He thinks your services are worthless and likes Great Value budget BB guns good only for popping squirrels in the rump and making them really mad.

      Instead, please ship it to me, a True American Patriot who appreciates your fine efforts to honor this classic gun. I will treat it with the respect it deserves. Also, please feel free to include any additional guns you might have taking up much-needed space in your facility.


      • Dear Haz.

        I have two words for you — Wilson Combat. Why would you spend $3k on the Heritage 1911 over the Wilson Combat? What is it you say? Oh yeah, a Wilson Combat is not the same as your Grandad’s 1911. Case closed. If you want Grandad’s 1911, this isn’t it



        • A souped up 1932 Ford Roadster isn’t your granddaddy’s car, either, but it sure looks nice and many would love to have one. A 1932 restored to mint factory condition is great, and so is a souped up version. To each his own.

          Wilson Combat is a quality outfit. You get no argument from me.

          I still am asking Turnbull to ship that bad boy to me instead of you because you clearly don’t appreciate the workmanship that went into it.

        • Feel free to send them your cash. But 30 years from now the extra cash invested at the long term rate of growth of market will be worth about 20K. Maybe that’s why I can afford a couple of these gems if I wanted to while you have to beg Heritage for freebe.

        • True, but I’d rather experience 30 years of memories at the range with my buddies, kids, and grandkids, plus have something nice to bequeath at the end. Letting that cash sit for 30 years unused is mathematically a good investment, but it doesn’t include the emotional quotient.

        • It’s not mathematically a good investment. Mathematically, when you account for inflation over the last 30 years and compare it to retirement account growth, and then compare that against the price of fine firearms now versus then, the Turnbull 1911 is a better financial investment than keeping $3,300 in a retirement account for 30 years. Not by much, but it does win.

        • @jwtaylor,

          I know. But I was tossing tdiinva a bone to be nice.

          I’d rather have the Turnbull.

        • To Taylor

          quote———————–It’s not mathematically a good investment. Mathematically, when you account for inflation over the last 30 years and compare it to retirement account growth, and then compare that against the price of fine firearms now versus then, the Turnbull 1911 is a better financial investment than keeping $3,300 in a retirement account for 30 years. Not by much, but it does win.——————quote

          As usual your pompous jargon is not based on fact or reality. There have been numerous studies comparing collecting guns to investing money in the financial markets and the studies prove guns are a very bad long term investment compared to the financial market when speaking of long term investment. Yes there are exceptions to all rules but basically you only make big money on guns when you buy very cheaply and then flip them for a quick profit in a short period of time. I tried the financial market, long term financial investment and long term gun collecting and the financial market even in my own experiences made me the most money not even flipping guns because to do that and make big money you have to go into a full time business and even then the market is far more fickle than investment. A downturn in the economy lasts far longer in the guy buying and selling market than in the financial market because the financial often recovers with lightening speed while gun buying takes a lot longer to recover because the working man takes a lot longer to recover all the losses he took during a down turn in the economy and he is not in any financial position to buy new toys right away.

          And lets not forget gun ban laws either. Buying guns is always a gamble because the Feds or your own fickle State can put draconian restrictions on them which can dissuade prospective buyers who do not want to take a chance on buying such weapons or are willing to jump through restrictive hoops to buy them or the State can outlaw certain firearms and give you almost nothing to turn them it if they are banned. I can even remember as far back as the early 70’s when a nearby big city in my area demanded all guns with less than 3 inch barrels had to be turned in with no compensation. Just another reason investing in firearms is a big gamble especially in the 21st Century with all the mass shootings.

          And lets face Taylor’s somewhat misleading information. The average working man can afford a few bucks a week to invest in the financial world but almost never can he come up with the money for a super high end firearm. Yes if your talking about some very high end firearms that only the well healed can afford some individual pieces that are of limited manufacture or one of a kind can go up in price substantially long term and be a somewhat good investment but that kind of weapon is far beyond the reach of the average Joe.

        • Oh, shut up, Vlad. Your rant was so long, I stopped after the first two sentences. If you’re gonna be controversial for trollery’s sake, keep it to manageable bite-sized portions so you don’t lose your audience, huh?

          I skipped the last 90% of your rant.

        • To Hazmat

          quote——————Oh, shut up, Vlad. Your rant was so long, I stopped after the first two sentences. If you’re gonna be controversial for trollery’s sake, keep it to manageable bite-sized portions so you don’t lose your audience, huh?

          I skipped the last 90% of your rant.—————quote

          Without realizing it you confessed to why you are an ignorant person. It results from attention deficit disorder coupled with the inability to read the English language. Even a 6th grader could have read my entire response in less than 1 minute and unlike you comprehended it.

        • Well, Sparky, the investment is liquitd. The pistol is not. A physical good deprecates. I suppose if you lock it away in a safe and never use it then it might appreciate but if you decide to actually shoot on a regular basis then it will lose value. And then there is gun control. 30 years from now it might be worth nothing since you will have to bury it in the back yard.

          What would Warren Buffett do?

        • tdinva,
          You said spending the $3,300 or so this gun would cost in a long-term investment account would be worth more than the gun in that same amount of time. You went so far as to insult someone based on your theory. But you didn’t actually do the math, you just made a guess, and you guessed wrong. It doesn’t matter if it the asset is liquid since if to meet your model it has to stay locked up for 30 years. There’s several calculators online that you can go and check your statement. It’s not true. For this particular gun at this amount, the gun is a better investment.
          If this were a larger investment, or many investments made over time, you would be correct. But a small amount of money, invested only once, and set for a long period of time, has relatively small returns.

        • @jwtaylor and tdiinva,

          All I meant was that at the end of my life I’d like to have as many happy memories of spending quality time with my family to look back upon. Do what you wish with your money…I’d like to have the Turnbull shown above to enjoy at the range.


          “Hazmat?” I like it. I think I’ll take that name. It’s mine now.

    • While I agree that the Colt is a great choice that’s affordable for most of us, I have to disagree about Springfield armory. Their poor political moves have rubbed off into their manufacturing last I heard.

      • It wasn’t a recommendation per se. I was just pointing that the Milspec is more representative of what Grandad, or my case dad, used. You can substitute anything in the $700-$1000 price range if you would prefer

        • Right on. Personally while the topic is here, I’d say the best affordable ~700-1000~ 1911’s are colt, Ruger, and kimber. I’ve seen that magnum research got into the 1911 game at that level too.

    • Nor would it have a case hardened frame, a “memory bump” on the grip safety, front strap checkering, or a Commander style hammer, much less a blued slide (except for civilian market guns). It would have to be Parkerized instead. To call it a “heritage classic” after the WWI model is lame. Just call it a beautiful 1911 and leave it at that.

      • Also the divots in the frame behind the trigger. Those were an A1 addition. This is basically a custom 1911 with a straight mainspring housing and has little more in common with the WWI model than a Glock 17.

        Also the WWI model didn’t have the beaver tail.

      • “To call it a “heritage classic” after the WWI model is lame. ”
        Well they didn’t call it that. I don’t know where you guys are getting stuck on the idea that they are trying to suggest that just like the original models.

    • ” and say it’s just like the one grandad used in the Great WWII.”
      Nowhere does Turnbull say anything like that. You made that up entirely by yourself just to complain.

      This is the entire description of the gun on Turnbull’s site:

      This is the Turnbull Government Model 1911.This pistol was first released in 2016, modeled after the original full-sized Colt Model 1911. Our Government models come standard with beavertail grip safety, steel parts, blue finished slide, double diamond walnut grips, color case hardened frame, Commander style hammer and standard 5″ barrel, and checkered front strap and tritium Kensights. Every Turnbull Manufacturing firearm is 100% hand fit and American made, and features several options that are available upon request.

      • The reviewer said thusly: “Turnbull’s only been making these 1911 pistols since 2015, based on the classic, full-sized Colt 1911 used during WWI.” And that is to what the comments refer. As I and the others have commented, this firearm bears very little resemblance to the original Colt M1911, other than the fact that it is a Colt 1911 clone. It bears little resemblance to the M1911A1 other than the fact it is a Colt 1911 clone. It is undoubtedly a beautiful and excellently made gun, but that is not the question.

        • That’s ridiculous. This is clearly a government framed 1911. Anyone looking at it would recognize it so. It is based off the original 1911.

        • Nobody is saying it’s not a 1911. What I said and those who might agree with me think is that the original 1911 in today’s dollar was not $3k precision manufactured pistol. It is just a high end 1911 like a Wilson Combat and is nothing like a military issue 1911.

          I have rifle/scope combination that approach the price of the Heritage 1911 but I think that pistols are more utilitarian and spending lots of money is a waste. Firearms, like all collectibles, are a crap shoot and not very good investments. You have a better chance of getting on the Microsoft than making money on this or any other collectible firearm.

  2. I have had new guns right from the factory with color case hardening finishes and unfortunately the finish soon fades away into nothing. Yes its beautiful to look at when brand new but hardly worth the price of having it done to used guns. When done to used guns the extreme heat almost always and I mean always warps the frame to some degree requiring a lot of grinding by the gunsmith to get the internal parts back into the warped frame. Trust me I have been down that road more than once which led me never to have used guns ever case hardened. At the factory the raw receiver is not fully machined when they case hardened it as they know the receiver is going to warp.

    • Hmmm…a coherent statement that provides info/advice based upon personal experience, assumedly intended to help others on TTAG to avoid similar pitfalls if they consider the same finish. No finger pointing, name calling, cut-and-pasted portions of other’s comments, or mindless drivel. All in all, a comment actually worth reading.

      Is this really Vlad?

      Who *is* the real Vlad, anyhow?

    • “I have had new guns right from the factory with color case hardening finishes and unfortunately the finish soon fades away into nothing.”

      Paging ‘Dyspeptic Gunsmith’. ‘Dyspeptic Gunsmith’ to the TTAG comment section please.

      Or anyone else who actually knows – Does color-case hardening fade with age?

      • If you leave it un-oiled and in the sun, yes. If you put a light coat of oil on it, as really anyone who actually handles guns would do, it will stay bright for a long, long time. I have some case hardened guns that are bright and beautiful after more than a century.
        Never listen to Cisco/Vlad. He has no idea what he is talking about and has been consistently caught lying on this forum.

        • quote————–If you leave it un-oiled and in the sun, yes. If you put a light coat of oil on it, as really anyone who actually handles guns would do, it will stay bright for a long, long time.——————quote

          Your the bullshitter that does not know what the hell he is talking about. I bought a Fox Double barrel in 1966 and if there ever was a guy that had a fetish for grease and oil its me. All my guns are always dripping in oil and grease and after a few seasons of hunting with the fox the finish faded away and ditto for a Savage single shot shotgun that I still own to this day and a Mauser 98 sporter. So next time you talk rectum gas be prepared to be caught in your own lies. You know zero about color case hardening your statements prove it beyond all doubt. Now air bag who is the real bullshitter.

        • vlad. You are not a bullshitter. Bullshitting is a time honored traditional pass time indulged in by American men. A cultural icon if you will.

          You are just an old fashioned, low down, scum sucking liar.

        • “Never listen to Cisco/Vlad.”

          I don’t, why I requested verification from someone who knows, and you qualify as someone who knows…

        • to Geo

          Quote””””””””””””””””””””“Never listen to Vlad.”

          I don’t, why I requested verification from someone who knows, and you qualify as someone who knows”””””””””””””””””””quote

          If you had any reading comprehension you would have understood that Taylor just told you that color case hardening does fade. The controversy came about when he tried to bullshit (to sell guns) that if you put oil on them they would not fade.

  3. I’d love to own any of Turnbull’s guns. My bank wouldn’t like it, but I sure would. Very fine looking boomsticks!

  4. As usual from Mike, great write up and fantastic photos.

    Another beautiful piece from Turnbull.

  5. For all you fucktards that haven’t handled a Turnbull firearm just go drink some bleach. I am so tired of you bottom feeding, no producing , low rent fucks bitching about quality firearms prices you should go drown yourselves. Please do all of the civilized world a favor and get it over with. It’s not the rest of the world that’s the problem it’s you. You’re the disease. You hate innovation,beauty,quality and probably small children and dogs. You want awesome shit for Chinese slave labor wages. You are what’s wrong with America.

    • You know if you keep choking back your anger and holding in your emotions like that you could wind up in therapy.

      Learn to let it out. Its good for your inner well being. You silent macho types wind up with all sorts of baggage that proves self destructive as it grinds at you.

    • Wait…I’m low rent white trash. At least, according to Pg1.5. So what are you saying?

    • Well, it isn’t entirely their fault. Not that long ago, you could buy quality American made products for reasonable prices. Then a string of presidents starting with Nixon and ending with Obama, sent all of America’s manufacturing abilities to China. All in all, was perhaps America’s greatest blunder in its entire history. The magnitude of that fuck up is still not yet understood by the elite and the media and that’s why they still don’t understand Trump and never will. Trump is/was never about “racism” or even the border. Those are just side effects. It was always about betrayal. That’s why these days anything of quality manufactured here is at an astronomical price. If the US and West in general left China closed and isolated it also would’ve set the 21st century as one to be continually dominated by America. But instead, our “betters” decided to help build a massive rival and wound us in the process.

      • Japan has gone the same route. They used to make the best forged golf clubs in the world. Now there is only foundry in Japan. They have shipped there capability overseas

  6. A true thing of beauty!
    Is it historically accurate? Does that really matter when you have something so lovingly crafted that is actually made to be used?
    That is how every 1911 should be set up; everything in its place, just as God intended.

  7. I hate to sound like a low rent white trash fucktard but I just don’t like beaver tails on 1911’s. Kind of takes a lot of the classic look away. Course that’s just me, a low rent white trash fucktard.

    • No accounting for poor taste. You probably don’t like any beaver tail that is female. Sorry for your poor personal evaluation of oneself. Hopefully your next stepdad won’t molest you and you won’t have to identify with the # me too crowd. You can hang with Fauxchohauntus if anything comes up in the interim. Please keep responding and engaging I enjoy the fact your stupid shit self thinks you are responding in an intelligent fashion. Please enlighten us to how you and the rest of ttag readers wiped out millions of al queida and liberals with your glock 19s and rock island 1911s. Cmon JD. tell us again how you are the savior/arbiter of what constitutes what we should buy.

      • You know what’s actually hilarious?

        You’re going to wake up tomorrow and still be the same piece of shit you are now.

        Dance, troll, I order you to respond… 😉

  8. Doug Turnbull sources his frames from the company Remsport. I believe that Remsport frames and slides are made offshore.

  9. He makes these right up the street from me.
    But at those prices I’m going Wilson or Nighthawk.

    Although, to be honest, you’re going to get 95% of the way with a Dan Wesson at 1/2 the price.

  10. When the price of a firearm is 4 digits and the first digit is a 3, I stop considering that firearm. Not in my budget but it certainly is a beauty.

  11. Gear up as your favorite Delsin Rowe Vest. Slim Fit Leather Jackets brings this iconic jacket from animation to reality, especially for all the fans of this video game. Delsin Rowe is the main protagonist and playable character, a young Native-American man who later realizes he’s a Conduit with special powers.

Comments are closed.