I’ve owned Wilsons before, and I’ve owned a CQB in .45ACP as well. But I’ve been shooting a series of 9mm 1911s lately for reviews, and I was interested to see how a full size 9mm 1911 would run in the Wilson CQB platform. At the recent Wilson Combat Intermediate Pistol course, I got a chance to try out a new CQB Tactical LE in 9mm and I was not disappointed.
When I got the gun and was greeted with the usual Wilson Combat pistol packaging; a great soft case, with individual pockets for multiple magazines. Pro tip: if you choose to buy a 9mm 1911, order all you can, because magazines have proven difficult to find. Two come with the gun, but I would highly recommend ordering a few more with your purchase. The pack also includes a target to verify accuracy, and a detailed quality check list with each individual who QC’d the pistol.
I chose the only combination of finishes available on 24 hours of notice — black slide with an olive frame. This is intended to be a fighting gun, so there are no super shiny surfaces. But the “Armor Tough” finish is durable, functional and doesn’t look bad. This model comes with a single-sided safety for daily carry. The magazine holds 10 rounds of 9mm, and easily stuffs into a well built magazine well that funnels the mag right into the frame.
Wilson’s G10 serrated stock along with front strap checkering gave me a solid grip through the entire course of fire; a good thing since my hands get pretty sweaty. The sights are Wilson Combat’s own particular sight set up: a large U-shaped notch in the rear and a green fiber optic front sight.
I had a particularly hard time with the CQB Tactical LE’s sights. It’s the only gun I have with no reference in the back, just the U shape. Until Joyce Wilson asked me about it, I was consistently shooting low. I wasn’t fully raising that front sight even with the top of the back sight. With a little practice, I got used to it, but I still prefer something like a Heine Straight Eight. On a gun of this expensive, I’d also want a tritium front sight.
The CQB Tactical LE’s trigger had zero creep, with a trigger pull right at 3 1/2 lbs. It breaks crisply and cleanly. This is Wilson’s standard trigger; a special order lighter version is available. I might have it dialed down a bit; I have a 2 ½ lb. trigger on my EDC. But honestly it’s pretty hard for me to tell the difference.
As far as reliability, one word does it: perfect.
During the two-day course, everyone broke down and cleaned their guns about halfway through the first day. I chose not to. The end result: about 830 rounds through the gun before the first cleaning. I fired Winchester White Box 115gr FMJs, American Eagle 147r FMJs and Team Never Quit 100-grain frangible rounds. Since then, I’ve put another 1,000 rounds through the CQB Tactical LE. I’ve yet to experience a malfunction of any kind.
From a Ranson Rest, Wilson guarantees 1” accuracy at 25 yards. Off a bag, I was able to shoot 1.5” groups at 25 yards all day long with the standard White Box FMJs. With hand loads I can get it a little bit better.
The CQB Tactical LE is a 5” bull barreled 9mm 1911. Not only that, but it is fairly heavy, heavier than my Colt Combat Elite in .45ACP. Recoil on the 9mm feels like a kitten batting at the front sight. There’s no snap, just a little rise off target and then right back down. That immediately translates to speed, especially when shooting one-handed. Every person that fired the CQB Tactical LE came away with a smile. Just like me, every person that shot the 9mm 1911 against a full-framed .45ACP said it felt like cheating.
I bought this gun. It wasn’t a hard sell. I’ll change the sights to Heine Straight Eights. Other than that, I noticed Ryan Wilson had a particular cut on the top size of his slide, flattening the slide and blending it into the front sight. So I sent my CQB Tactical LE back with him. Ryan returned it a couple of weeks later with the new cut. It looks outstanding and that front sight pops now more than ever. Plus, now it’s a one-of-a-kind gun. Or at least more one-of-a-kinder-er.
As you know, Wisons aren’t cheap. And a lot of people will claim that you’re paying for the Wilson name. But how do you think they got that name?
They got it by turning out consistently high-quality firearms, and the CQB Tactical LE is no exception. I’ve owned a few guns — OK a couple hundred guns — including quite a few 1911s. I’ve never fired a bad Wilson. I’ve never even seen a bad one. Haters love to point out that you can buy six GLOCKS for the same price, but the Wilson Combat CQB Tactical LE is worth every penny.
Specifications: Wilson Combat CQB Tactical LE 9mm
Magazine Capacity: 10 rounds
Barrel Length: 5″ Match Grade Bull, Hand Fit
Overall Length: 8.7″
Sight Radius: 6.6″
Weight Empty: 40.4 oz.
Weight Loaded: 48.8 oz.
Grips: G10 Diagonal Flat-Bottom
Sights: Battlesight with Fiber Optic Front Sight
Ratings (out of five stars):
Appearance and Style * * * *
Designed as a fighting gun, there’s no high polish or bling. Wilson Combat pulls off the “combat finish” nicely. The integral rail takes away from the genius of Browning’s design, but that can’t be helped if you want to hang a flashlight from it. And I do.
Reliability * * * * *
Perfect reliability over multiple trips with many different rounds.
Accuracy * * * * ½
After shooting the Bill Thompson’s Custom Automatics 1911, I can’t give any 1911 five stars unless I can shoot it under 1”. Of course, that gun was twice the cost of this one and the Wilson’s 1” to 1.5” groups are outstanding.
Overall * * * * *
This gun was exactly what I’d hoped for and doesn’t disappoint in any way. I was actually a little surprised at it’s rock solid reliability, but not at the fit and finish. Pricey, and very much worth it.