How (and Why) I Bought Three Wilson Combat 9mm 1911s in One Month

courtesy Jason Bayne

Reader Jason Bayne writes:

It’s funny, there is no way I could afford or justify buying a new $4000 pistol. But somehow, I was able to afford and justify buying three used $4000 pistols all in one month.

Right now I’m just going to tell you which ones I bought and show you some pics from shooting them at the range. After I get to spend some real quality time with them, which will include some time outdoors shooting steel and running some timed drills, I’ll write more in-depth about the individual guns.

I also plan on doing some comparisons to some of the other 1911 pistols I own, including my beloved Dan Wesson 9mm pistols. Before going any further, I should warn you all of my 1911 pistols are chambered in 9mm, and the WC pistols below are no exception.

I have been on a quest to find a 9mm carry pistol that mitigates recoil better than the double stack 9mm polymer wonder guns that have become the standard go-to guns for so many of us over the last few decades. After years of carrying a GLOCK 19, then a CZ P-10C, I grew tired of not being able to better my rapid-fire groups with these guns.

After all, what’s the point of a carry gun in the first place? To neutralize a threat. What’s the best way to do that with a handgun in a very stressful and possibly poorly lit situation? The goal is to be able to get as many accurate/well-placed shots on your target as quickly as possible.

The less felt recoil your pistol produces, the more you maximize your chances of placing both accurate and fast fire on your target(s). If I could carry a 22LR for personal defense I would. Alas, 22LR is just not a great defensive caliber for reasons we don’t need to get into here.

Suffice it to say that most agree if you are going to carry a gun, you want to carry a pistol chambered in one of the major handgun service rounds, 9mm, .40 S&W or .45 ACP.

Given that terminal performance with modern bonded hollow points is essentially equal among the three major service calibers, and given that my goal is fast, accurate fire, I carry the caliber that has the least recoil of the three. That’s 9mm. With 9mm you also get the added benefit of being able to fit more rounds in a magazine than a similarly-sized .40 or .45 magazine.

I bring all this up because I want you to understand why I chose a pistol with a compensator as my first Wilson. I have spent the last two years buying and shooting as many 1911 pistols in 9mm as I possibly could in order to compare and contrast the amount of recoil they produce. This was my personal quest to find the ultimate daily carry 9mm pistol after I became dissatisfied with my double-stack 9mm polymer pistols rapid-fire performance.

Early on in my two-year odyssey, I found that the 1911 in 9mm in both steel and aluminum frame variants did a a much better job of mitigating recoil than my GLOCKs and polymer CZs in 9mm. I saw my rapid-fire groups at eight yards go from six inches with my polymer 9mm carry pistols to under three inches with every 9mm 1911 pistol I shot.

Dan Wesson Valkyrie 9mm (Jon Wayne Taylor for TTAG)

After a year of informal testing I found that the Dan Wesson aluminum framed 9mm 1911 pistols in Commander and CCO configuration exhibited less recoil than any other aluminum frame 1911 9mm pistol in the same configuration. Dan Wesson seems to understand the importance of mitigating recoil and seem to build their guns with that in mind.

courtesy Jason Bayne

The combination of recoil and mainspring weights and the radius of the riring pin stop that Dan Wesson uses are optimal for minimizing recoil. The difference in recoil between an aluminum framed Dan Wesson Valkyrie or Vigil commander in 9mm compared to say a Colt Lightweight Commander in 9mm is shocking.

The same is true with some of the aluminum framed high-end 1911 aluminum framed offerings from some of the higher-end 1911 manufacturers. I even found that aluminum frame Dan Wesson pistols in 9mm exhibited less recoil than many steel frame offerings from other manufacturers. Dan Wesson just has the right formula for building 9mm 1911 pistols that minimize recoil.

#1 Wilson Combat X-TAC Elite Carry Comp 9mm Compact

I had found my ultimate carry pistol, a Dan Wesson Valkyrie Commander or CCO. I was now able to put my mind at ease. I had put in the time and did all my research and testing and achieved my goal. Or did I?

A couple of months ago I read a review of the Wilson Combat Carry Comp in 45 ACP. The author was very impressed with the amount of recoil reduction compared to non-comped pistols. It got me thinking that I need to shoot one of these in 9mm.

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) I don’t know anyone who owns a Wilson Combat Carry Comp 9mm. One would also have a very hard time finding one of these to rent at a local range.

So I was left with no choice…I had to buy one! With prices for these pistols starting at $3985 for the model I was interested in, I had to look on the used market.

My New-to-Me Wilson Combat X-TAC Elite Carry Comp 9mm Compact (WC CC):

courtesy Jason Bayne

I managed to find the one above, gently used, just over half of MSRP. I thought that was a smoking deal. The gun came to me in excellent condition. All I am going to say at this point is the WC CC eliminates anywhere from 50% to 70% of the recoil depending on load. Comped pistols love lighter faster loads. I find the most benefit with the lighter weight +P loads like Barnes 115 gr TAC-XPD +P.

The difference between the WC CC and just buying a screw-on comp for your GLOCK 19 with a threaded barrel is significant. The Wilson comped-carrel is a one-piece affair machined from a single piece of steel. That’s a far superior design over a screw-on or bushing comp.

About a year ago I bought a screw-on comp for my GLOCK 19. Lots of folks were trying them out and reporting positive results. The “Roland Special”, a GLOCK 19 with a Comp and several other key accessories, seemed to really kick off the comp trend in the GLOCK world.

I never had a great deal of success getting my GLOCK to run perfectly with the comps I’ve tried. Adding a comp changes the dynamics of how the slide moves when firing, therefore you are going to have to mess with different recoil spring weights to get it right.

I also didn’t notice a huge difference with the comps I tried. The gun was perfectly accurate, as you can see in my slow-fire group below. But it just didn’t do it for me.

It is not possible to make a one-piece barrel for a GLOCK or most modern semi-auto pistols because of the way the barrel has to be removed for disassembly. On a 1911, the barrel is removed from the front of the slide. On a modern semi-auto, the barrel is pulled out from the chamber side and you can’t pull a comp through the hole in the front of the slide.

My GLOCK 19 with a screw-on comp…plenty accurate, but not nearly the amount of recoil reduction or reliability of the Wilson Carry Comp.

In the last four weeks that I have owned this pistol I have put almost 1300 rounds through it using a dozen different types of 9mm factory ammo and several brands of magazines. I have had ZERO failures of any kind. This gun is so amazing to shoot because of the lack of recoil, it is hard to put it down. With the WC CC 200 – 300 rounds go by in a flash. It’s like shooting a 22LR pistol with some loads.

If you’re looking for a carry gun with the least amount of recoil, this is the gun. If you have to go without a comp, an aluminum-framed Dan Wesson in 9mm is what you want. Their new Vigil is an excellent choice.

In the weeks to come, I will write up a more in-depth review of the WC CC, but for now here is how its been shooting for me…

courtesy Jason Bayne

The WC CC shoots slow-fire, rapid-rire, and at distance

courtesy Jason Bayne

courtesy Jason Bayne

courtesy Jason Bayne

And yes, I’m carrying it.

courtesy Jason Bayne

#2 Wilson Combat Ultralight Carry (ULC) 9mm Compact

I saw this Wilson Ultralight Carry for sale on Gunbroker. It looked brand new in the pictures, but it was listed as used. It also came with a second barrel in .38 Super that was fitted to it.

That got me thinking, if I buy this gun, I can send it to Wilson and have a comp barrel fitted. And that is exactly what I did. I made the seller an offer of three pistols and $800, and we made a deal.

The Wilson arrived just over two weeks ago. When I took it apart, it was clear this gun had NEVER been fired more than a magazine full and that was probably at the factory. I ended that immediately.

I shot a few hundred flawless rounds through it, and off it went to Wilson to have a 9mm comp barrel fitted. This way I will be able to compare a WC Carry Comp with a steel frame with a WC Carry Comp with an aluminum frame.

courtesy Jason Bayne

Here is a picture of the spare .38 Super barrel that was fitted to the gun:

courtesy GunBroker

There’s no question this gun is super accurate, beautifully built and fitted, and feels amazing in the hand. But even though it weighs the same as a comparable Dan Wesson 9mm with aluminum frame, it has more recoil than the Dan Wesson 9mm 1911 pistols I own with aluminum frames. Still, it’s a joy to shoot. And once it comes back with a comped barrel, I’m thinking it will have less recoil than my Dan Wesson 9mm pistols.

Pictured below is how it shot for me before I sent it off to have the Comped-Barrel fitted. I will do a more detailed review of this particular WC ULC when I it comes back from Wilson and I get to spend some time with it.

Here is how it was shooting for me before I sent it off to Wilson a to have the comp barrel fitted:

courtesy Jason Bayne

courtesy Jason Bayne

courtesy Jason Bayne

#3 Wilson Combat CQB 9mm Compact

The Wilson Combat CQB is pretty much Wilson’s entry level 1911 pistol. In this case, entry level means a $2800 base-price. Last week my friend who owns the local tactical superstore texted me a picture of a Black and Gray WC CQB. One of his wealthy customers brought it in to swap towards a new Wilson. All I know is he never shot this one, because it was clear after breaking it down it was brand new. My buddy made me a deal I could not refuse. So I didn’t.

I picked it up, ran a few hundred flawless rounds through it and thought to myself that these steel frame Wilsons are excellent even without the comp Yesterday I boxed it up and sent it back to Wilson to have the barrel cut flush with the frame and cut a reverse crown on the muzzle. I also had a brand new Wilson Bullet Proof one-piece magwell sitting here in the shop. I’m having them install that as well. Finally, I am having the controls/small parts done in black to match the slide.

Once I get this baby back from Wilson, I will also do some more detailed writing about it.

My Wilson Combat CQB 9mm Compact

courtesy Jason Bayne

courtesy Jason Bayne

 

That’s all for now. Much more to come about these pistols over the next few months when I get them back from Wilson.

comments

  1. avatar RF s a BFBD says:

    The important thing is that you learn from you mistakes

    1. avatar Salty says:

      Yes. And one of them is omitting price from the details. Clearly it made ya jump, but we deal in concrete facts… a deal you can’t refuse is veeeeeeeeeeeeery relative.

  2. avatar StLPro2A says:

    Bummer….I have a similar problem with Barrett M107A1s and MRADs……..working on both of my Barrett rainbows. It obviously stems from lack of adult supervision in my life. Aw, LIFE IS GOOD!!!!

  3. avatar Jay in Florida says:

    Since I cant afford a Wilson gun in any condition.
    Ill just have to take Dans word on them. YEs I might be a bit jealous…………maybe.
    Guess Ill make due with my poor little old RIA Officers size 1911 in 9mm………………sigh.
    Which for $500. Shoots circles around any other name brand 1911 in 9mm Ive owned.

  4. avatar Trampled Under Foot says:

    God carries a 1911. It’s chambered in .45 ACP.

    1. avatar SteveO says:

      My 2 counterarguments:

      1) 6.5 Creedmore.
      2) Chuck Norris.

      Now go ahead, divide by zero. I triple-dog dare you.

      1. avatar Dave Wave says:

        It takes 42 waffles to cover a dog house. Why? Because motorcycles don’t have sleeves.

    2. avatar Klaus Von Schmitto says:

      God’s 1911 is chambered in 38 Super. It’s one of the reasons he’s God.

      1. avatar Trampled Under Foot says:

        Uh, no. And John Moses Browning loads his magazines for him. John Garand designed his rifle and keeps handing him en bloc block clips. The only men who carry 1911s in 38 Super live in third world Latin American countries.

  5. avatar binder says:

    Did you even try a real CZ-75?
    CZ Pro Tek II for stupid money (but still less than Wilson Combat) or a Shadowline compact for about half.

    I sometime shoot 1911 in competition, but I will never carry one. I don’t carry how many time you practice with a safety. The one time you get a bad grip on the gun and cant flick it off, (or worse yet, not disengage the grip safety) will be the only time you will ever regret it.

  6. avatar Gadsden says:

    Well. Now that you have three. Might as well carry all three.

    1. avatar M1Lou says:

      One is none and three is weight lifting.

  7. avatar Stan says:

    CZ PCR for the win. Also $600.

  8. avatar Sam I Am says:

    Thanks for the review.

    Wish I had one of those pistols. Not enough time left on the calendar to save up the price of a Wilson.

    Rats !

  9. avatar jcbenten says:

    I am relatively new to gun ownership and I only have 0.45 caliber (Sig 1911, Sig P320 compact, S&W Shield 45)…why on earth would anyone get a 9mm in a 1911 gun?

    1. avatar Trampled Under Foot says:

      jcbenten, you may be new to firearms ownership, but you are on the right track. Lots of really great 9mms out there. No reason to debase a 1911. Want a single action 9mm? That’s what a Browning Hi-Power is for.

      1. avatar Ranger Rick says:

        ☝️what he said!

    2. avatar Jeremy D. says:

      He said in the article. He wanted tighter rapid-fire groups and a metal frame. 9mm recoils less than .45 and 1911s are (almost) always metal frame

      1. avatar binder says:

        430 splits is NOT rapid fire. Not with a single action 1911, Not on a single target.

    3. avatar Bob in IN says:

      9mm…cause the caliber wars are over.

      1. avatar Gadsden says:

        Not when 9mm gets eclipsed by the first creedmoor pistol round. It’ll be a 9×21 casing, necked down to 6mm.

        Behold: 6mm Creedmoor Parabellum.

      2. avatar Trampled Under Foot says:

        They’ve been over 1911.

  10. avatar GS650G says:

    I’m not a 1911 fan (probably the only person who isnt) so no jealousy from me.

  11. avatar DJ says:

    I’m not a Wilson, Glock or 9mm fan. That being said, excellent review. The photos with the targets and ammo are impressive. Some of the shot groups are quite impressive.

    I’ll keep my Ed Brown’s in 45acp.

  12. avatar Yarbles says:

    Meh. To each his own, I guess.

    Not impressed with the Wilson Combat 1911s. There are much better and prettier guns out there for the price. Their barrels are exceptionally good and their long gun quality is very good however overpriced.

    I recently bought a customized to my specifications Cabot Vintage Classic. Most beautiful 1911 I have ever beheld after I jeweled the barrel hood, trigger, and the flats on the grip safety. in the proper caliber too. I am on Stan Chen’s waiting list to get on his 5 YEAR WAITING LIST to have him make me one of his heirloom quality guns.

    1. avatar Jay in Florida says:

      Drooooooooooool.
      Best looking guns ever made.
      Best of luck getting on the list.

      1. avatar Jay in Florida says:

        Ooooooooh a Cabot Damascus.
        A work of art too.
        One can dream.

        1. avatar Geoff "Bring the EDIT button back, will ya, TTAG?" PR says:

          The Cabot ‘Meteorite’ is my lottery fantasy…

  13. avatar Yarbles says:

    BTW, firing those compensated pistols in low light and especially very low light will make you wish you hadn’t.

    1. avatar DrewR says:

      I have not found this to be the case. About a month ago I fired my S&W 66 L Comp at my backyard range with both Hornady and Sig Sauer 125 gen .357 magnum ammo in no light conditions and found it to have only a marginal impact on my vision. I think this is one of those Internet urban legends that no by bothers to try for themselves.

      1. avatar Trampled Under Foot says:

        With flash retardant powder the flash has been pretty much a non factor for years. Muzzle blast? Not so much.

    2. avatar Trampled Under Foot says:

      Do a speed rock with one and tell me how York face feels after that stun grenade goes off under your chin.

      1. avatar GDMF says:

        If that is how you do a speed rock, you’re doing it wrong.

  14. avatar Hoyden says:

    Beware the man with one gun?

    Beware the man who triples down on 9×[email protected]’s, and shoots those cloverleafs.

    I’d guess my SA EMP4c3 is a little low priced for your $ range, but of all my 9’s, its the one that most out shoots the chimp behind the trigger. Bob tailed!! Many see SA as buying from Satan.

    Or go all out on a Sig P210. My unicorn.

    I’d say a CZ75B SA for your throw away pistol.

  15. avatar Minuteman says:

    Awesome position to be in. Glad all those babies found a home. What are you buying next month?

  16. avatar Logan says:

    Should’ve bought one $12,000 1911 instead

    1. avatar Karl says:

      Naw, man, 36 Glocks. Get the volume discount.

      1. avatar Logan says:

        But then you’d get stuck with 36 guns that looks total trash compared to a $12,000 1911

  17. avatar Geoff "Bring the EDIT button back, will ya, TTAG?" PR says:

    I think I can compress this down.

    How? You had the money.

    Why? Who needs an excuse to buy a fine gun?

  18. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    I love coming across good gat deals!

    Well done Sir!

  19. avatar Trampled Under Foot says:

    But wait! I’ve missed the obvious question. What kind of girly girl needs a comp on a 9mm anyway? Or, any pistol for that matter. Jesus, it’s only a medium caliber pistol round. My 7mm Mag has a Mag-Na-Port muzzle brake on it only because the previous owner had it installed. I hate it.

  20. avatar BRUCE CLARK says:

    I don’t understand the appeal of these pistols. What is it, bragging rights for a 1911 that is only marginally better than a 1911 that costs half as much or less? I’ll put it this way, you go get yourself a Wilson Combat or Nighthawk 1911, and I’ll buy a top of the line Sig Sauer 1911 and a top of the line Kimber 1911 and convince me how the WC or Nighthawk is superior, especially when you take into consideration I have both the Sig and Kimber plus 1000 rounds of ammo for the cost of either one of them. You’re right, you or anyone else can’t. And in 10 years from now it still won’t be. It’s sort of like trying to explain why a top of the line Mercedes-Benz is superior to a top of the line BMW plus a year of gas.

  21. avatar Kett Bravanaugh says:

    I’ve seen these exact same groups done at these same yardages with a Beretta 92. So not sure what we are considering here. Comped 9mms: like pointing out the tiny groups you shoot with your .22 handgun.

  22. avatar Tom RKBA says:

    I like 9mm and own a Valor Commander chambered in it, as well as an SA EMP and DW ECO. However, 45 ACP is a more powerful cartridge. 9mm is not its equal except in test media that is good only for comparison purposes. Such studies do not test all the variables involved with terminal ballistics. I do get the appeal of 9mm, especially in small framed guns (which cannot be beat for size to power ratio), but I prefer heavier cartridges in single stack guns.

  23. avatar possum says:

    .mm9 ekil t’nod I

  24. avatar tdiinva says:

    There is a better shooting 9mm Browning pistol than a 1911. The Browning Hi Power. Even at today’s rising prices you probably could have probably bought three for the same price. Even with the gritty unmodified trigger you can shoot the lights out.

  25. avatar Grant. says:

    Dan, you are a genius and this article is why I don’t carry striker guns. Thank you very much.
    I’m going to show this to everyone who says ‘striker fireds are better for carry because I’m an imbecile with a tiny brain and equally tiny dingaling.’

    1. avatar possum says:

      .the only way I get my dingaling to ring is with a hammeR

  26. avatar duroSIG556R says:

    Your pistol shooting sucks if you must rely on the gear.

    1. avatar GS650G says:

      The gear is largely responsible for results.

  27. avatar Minuteman says:

    I can’t decide if this article is about the overpriced 3 gun a month purchase or how much money the author had to spend. Border line boasting about his good fortune he spent. Maybe Wilson Combat employees this guy and is using him to try to boost sales. Wilsons are nice but way over priced. DW, Kimber even some Les Baers would compete for less money. This guy is all about the name and would probably be a obnoxious snob at the range.

  28. avatar Roadking says:

    I can’t ever see myself paying that much for a pistol. I had a new stainless Springfield Arms 1911 that I sent to Robar and had the thunder ranch package done on it so I have about $2500 into it, and it is the best shooting gun I own. It is consistently out performs a couple buddies Wilson, and Kimber models. Buy a good base gun, and have it customized. In my opinion you end up with a better gun. YMMV.

  29. avatar Bob says:

    I spent way to much money on a 92 G from Wilson Combat . what a piece of crap at 7 yards it shoots 6 in to the right they told me I would have to take it up with Beretta all the parts are made by Beretta all they do is send Beretta a empty frame and Beretta assembles the gun . I have a old CZ82 that can shoot circles around this CW 92 G I would carry CZ 82 instead of the piece of junk I got from Wilson Combat !!!!

    1. avatar Logan says:

      Hahahaha 6″ off at 7 yards? Are you cross eyed, or just mad you can’t afford expensive guns?

  30. avatar QuantumZen says:

    Curious what the author’s thoughts are on the Wilson Combat EDC X-9?

  31. avatar raptor jesus says:

    I’ve always found Glocks to be super flat shooting, low recoil, and easy to fire rapidly.

    Maybe because I train with, compete with, and carry revolvers most of the time.

    The Vigil does appeal to me, but like previously mentioned, I’m not betting my life on two external safeties.

    Plus I’d just feel weird carrying a 1911 in anything but .45 ACP.

  32. avatar JB says:

    Question for Jason Bayne (the author of this article): Have you shot any of the newer Dan Wesson 1911’s like the ECO or TCP which have a different recoil system than the Dan Wesson 1911’s you mentioned in this article?
    The following is copied from the Dan Wesson website about the 9mm and .45 ACO and TCP 1911’s: “The recoil system is quite unique for this style of 1911 as we use a solid, one piece guide rod and a flat recoil spring that is rated for 15,000 rounds in .45 ACP. That is 15,000 rounds! Not 500 rounds like most 1911 dual recoil systems are rated for. This recoil system also gives the benefit of a smooth slide for easier operation and less felt recoil.”
    This says .45 but presumably also applies to the 9mm versions as well.
    I ask this because MY (future) ultimate 1911 is a Wilson Combat X-TAC Elite Professional with a light rail, but if the Dan Wesson TCP (with a Trijicon RMR machined onto the slide) is half the cost of the Wilson and almost as good, then I’m getting the Dan Wesson asap! Thanks for the great article.

  33. avatar Dude says:

    I’d love to hear an update to this, and how the 38 super shoots.

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