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About three months ago I traded into a crappy gun. I had transitioned from being a detention/armed transport officer for a sheriff’s office in Montana to sitting behind a desk in DC. With no more on/off duty restrictions placed on what I could carry, I realized it was time to trade in my trusty XD40 service for the gun I always wanted: JMB’s 1911.

Firearms can be an expensive hobby though and I don’t have an excess of money lying around. Living in the DC metro area puts some stress on anyones expenses. Add in two kids under two years old and now we’re talking about John McClane showing up to see your estranged wife and end up fighting terrorists bare foot levels of stress. Used polymer doesn’t go for much in this day and age, especially when the market is flooded with it. But I did my research, made some calls and found a used 1911 for a little more than I was being offered for the XD.

Needless to say, I took the bait. I went to the gun shop and after holding that 1911 in my hand, I knew that we were always meant to be together. She came with XS big dot sights, some Wilson Combat upgrades and an action so smooth I thought about running away with her to Vegas right then and there.

Imagine the horror when I showed my friends that I had acquired…a Charles Daly EFS. The you’ll be sorrys, those guns are horrible and jam-omatic comments flew. All from friends who had never owned or shot one. It was after these conversations that I realized; who are we to judge what someone carries?

If someone wants to carry a Sigma or a RIA because it was inexpensive and works for them, why do we feel the need to ostracize them? I know I can’t afford to go out and buy that AR or new Sig. Unless I start selling body parts. With that lack of funding I find myself drawn to guns that people in the internet community have labeled as low quality.

Pull up any gun forum and try to start a post that starts with the words Hi-Point or Taurus and you’ll see what I mean. The thing I find so interesting is most of the criticisms come from people who have never shot one of these guns. They had a friend who had one or read a post about this one guy who had a horrible experience with one.

I’m not saying that some of these criticisms you see aren’t warranted. They are bad apples in every bunch. But why does it seem that the bad apples are always much more criticized when they’re “economical”? If a higher end 1911 starts having ejection problems like it’s in a flat spin headed out to sea, then it’s just going through a “break in period”. If a low end 1911 starts having issues than it’s a hunk of junk.

Well this hunk of junk has now eaten everything I’ve thrown at her, from Tula steel case to Hornady hollow points. I have yet to have a mechanical failure through hundreds of rounds and seeing as this 5 shot 15 yd grouping below is the norm, I haven’t heard a disparaging comment in a long time from my HK or Les Baer carrying friends. “Gladys” is accurate, reliable and only ran me $450. Who can argue with that?

We need to shift our thinking as gun owners. Instead of running around the internet, flaming people’s weapon choices left and right; we should support our brethren that are exercising their rights responsibly. Whether they’re carrying a crappy gun or not.

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  1. Nice. The only thing that matters is reliability, and maybe accuracy as a distant second. If it works, it works. Unlike our fearless leader’s none-too-cheap 686.

    • FWIR – I picked up a 4″ 686 for less than $375 (used). It was a pre-lock model with pinned barrel. Revolvers (full-size) are the best deals going right now. Keep an eye out and don’t act too interested, and you will be amazed what deals you can find.

    • Thanks John, that is definitely her. $450 out the door and the only thing I’ve changed is the grips and replacing the ambi safety with a single sided.

  2. Couldn’t agree more. While I’d never carry (concealed) my RIA because of its size and weight, I certainly wouldn’t hesitate based on performance. Like your cheap piece of slag, mine has never failed to cycle, fire and eject every bullet I’ve fed it from the moment it was new. I know it’s not sexy and I know it’s not cool, but it cost me $430 and has done everything I’ve ever wanted it to do.

  3. Ironic that what was intended to be a reasonably priced fighting gun doesn’t get the respect it’s due unless it dresses up like a pearl-handled dandy.

  4. I don’t know why they would call them a crappy gun. I own 2 C.D.’s and luv them both. I also know several other owners who have no complaints.

  5. Ryan, if you look back in time before Wilson Combat, Les Baer Custom, and the other guys who invented the idea of a custom shop gun, the 1911s ALL had a rep for being a steaming pile. They were, for the most part, government surplus weapons from WWII and Korea. Most had been used and abused. Few were in original condition. But they were cheap. The pioneers of the industry were originally gunsmiths who figured they could build a better mousetrap…er…grip safety, and improve on the reliability of JMB’s design here and there. Soon, gun manufacturers were taking note, and putting together custom shops on their own. (I love Capitalism and free-market enterprise…it’s a wonder what the idea of making money will do to create new markets and business models.)

    I’m convinced that ANY gun can be made to run, and run well. It’s all a matter of who works on it, how much they know, and the quality of parts they use on the upgrades.

    Congrats on joining the 1911 club. And don’t let anybody tell you that you have a crappy gun. (Always wondered about the wisdom of telling somebody that’s armed that they have a crappy gun. Seems to me to be kind of a Darwin Award moment. Still…)

  6. Mine’s a “S.A.M. Elite”, possibly made in the same Philippine factory. $320 used. I did have to replace the barrel bushing, slide stop, and extractor, as they were all soft and rapidly peening out of shape, and I had to Dremel the thumb safety to get it to fully engage – but now it runs perfectly and, not counting the McCormick magazines, is probably still under $400. The last time it jammed was with the one magazine that wasn’t McCormick.

    Photos and description

    Video of the pistol in IPSC action

    • Congrats on the “crappy” new gun; you join a looooong list of happy, safe, and effective 1911 owners. Regardless of what Gunnutmeggar says or thinks, the 1911 is far from a “dead” design. Actually, I would suspect that the 1911 will actually keep increasing in popularity, similar to the way the small-framed revolvers have enjoyed another popularity surge. Modern CNC tooling has eliminated much of the “hand-on-gun” time that was required to match and fit parts in the past. With that, costs will likely to stay where they are at, even at increased demand. Although I still prefer a 5″ stainless model, modern alloys will continue to drop the weight of 1911s, while still maintaining integrity and durability. The ergonomics, concealability, feel, and accuracy of even a “cheap” 1911 is still hard to beat by ANY other design. My XDMs, SIGs, S&Ws, and others come close, but as the old saying goes – close only works on “horseshoes and hand grenades”.

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