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Cabot Guns Black Diamond (courtesy

You may recall Cabot Gun recently invited the President of the United States to test fire its products during his taxpayer-funded Martha’s Vineyard holiday. By shunning the all-American pistol provider the Prez missed-out on sampling Cabot’s new Black Diamond model. CEO Rob Bianchin tells TTAG the Black Diamond is set to replace the Rangemaster in their product line. Priced at $5,950, the new full-sized 1911 offers a “higher level “of hand polished blued finish than the Rangemaster, a tritium front blind sight and adjustable rear, a black Tristar trigger and . . . wait for it . . . a star on the guide rod. TTAG will test fire the evil black gun on our readers’ behalf ASAP. If not sooner.

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  1. This sounds like too much work for you guys to test it, with your busy schedules and all. I got some time, I’ll do it for you.

  2. I looked around the Cabot website and they sure are proud of their 1911s. I have a hard time getting excited about shooting a piece of art (one of their pistols) when I can shoot a weapon of war (my 1943 Remington Rand). With all their super tight tolerances how often do the jam?

    • Tolerances and clearance are not the same. Tight tolerances is GOOD. Tight clearances not always.

      These guns are the right combination of both.

    • A fair bit of that wad of cash goes into detail finishing.

      While their surface finish is very nice, they wreck the overall effect by using allen screws on the grips. They came so close to making a Very Nice Gun[tm] there, and they blew it with allen head screws.


      • Out of curiosity, because I don’t see the problem with allen heads, what type of screws should they have used? And why?

        • CA Ben, I suspect that the DyspepticGunsmith is a purist and thinks grip screws should be slotted the way Mr. Browning did them.

        • Conventional, single-slot screw.

          When you see an allen (or worse, torx) head screw on a gun, you’re looking at the work of someone who is too lazy to time their screws.

          Look at high end rifles and shotguns. All the slots on the screws align with the long axis of whatever face or surface of the gun they’re on. Screws on the tangs of a rifle or shotgun action will be aligned to run along the length of the gun. On a high-end 1911, the screws should be times to have their slots run up the long axis of the hand grip. To accomplish this takes some work, and the screws become individually fitted – you won’t want to mix up the screws left to right or top to bottom, because when you then snug up the screws again, they won’t be tight when they’re in time.

          If this sounds like a piddling little detail, it seems that way until you’ve been around people who are willing to pay this kind of money for a gun. When custom gunmakers make a rifle or shotgun that goes $10K and up, you can bet their customers are expecting the screws to be timed, the screwheads to be engraved, etc.

          For a $6K 1911, I’m expecting slotted screws that are timed properly.

        • Dyspeptic, thanks for this explanation and your comments below. I learned something today. The ‘starts’ of the threads that the screws will go into must be controlled, and the screw’s regularity, as well. No wonder a quality side-lock looks so pleasing despite the screws.

    • $2,000 of it was just for the name. Anything with “black” in its name has to be cool.
      Now nobody else can name their pistol, Black Diamond. See how that works?
      A $6,000 gun is 100% want, and 0% need. Every round fired decreases its value.

    • This is why I don’t understand 1911 prices. Why can most places charge $2000 for a 1911, when that can buy you 4-6 of other handguns?

      • Vebose, but you don’t have to read it! I wondered this myself. I consider the following a faithful description of the best answers I received: It seems that for the high but fairly priced models the cost flows from three design features. The barrel-to-bushing fit must be extremely good, so good that just a bit tighter would fail. (H&K partially solved this with a rubber bushing on the MK23 and H&K 45 Tactical.) Slide-to-frame fit is connected and similar: 1911’s don’t actually jam because they are very tight. If you can rack the slide smoothly without undue effort then excellent slide-frame fit, despite being very tight, won’t be the cause of failures, but of slightly greater accuracy. The barrel, after all, is locked up with the slide at the critical instant, which therefore should not move horizontally on the frame, which would allow slight longitudinal tilt. Last, people pay for the precision of the trigger, meaning really the chain of connecting parts that intervene between hammer and trigger. To provide very precise linkage of these parts from stock parts requires fitting of each one, small tedious adjustments. WHY pay for these when another design may yield most of the benefits? Because the thing in good form can provide very high accuracy. In so-so form it still offers a very good trigger and OK accuracy. A great shooter with an H&K or Glock would beat me if I used a very good 1911, though. “The usual rules of life apply.” Laugh. My favorite 1911 didn’t cost much. It’s a S&W 1911, melonite-treated stainless steel (approx.=tenifer) slide and frame with black outer finish, a Briley barrel and bushing, and a replacement sear perfectly fit between original parts. It’s no Les Baer, but I love it. 1/5th of the Cabot discussed above. Melonite is less effective on stainless than on carbon steel, but helps. For CCW I carry a….G36 Glock, because its very small and light, but shoots well for me. (Yes, “it shoots,” I just hold it…)

  3. $6000 on a handgun?!

    More power to you if you have the means and that’s what you want to spend your money on, but damn!

    I can think of a whoooole lot of things that would come before “1911 clone” if I had 6 grand laying around.

  4. For the record, you can pick up the Nemo Omen, a .300 Win Mag powerhouse demon from hell of an AR-15, for less money than that 1911…

  5. $5,950 sounds like a lot of money for a 1911, but if it can hit a shotglass at 600 yards off-hand like the Lippard Combat NCO, then count me in for several dozen.

  6. What a surprise, another manufacturing headed straight for a market segment composed of nothing but gullible no-nothings hoping to buy some status, not realizing that merely appearing at a range with such an item is the equivalent of branding your own forehead with a big “S.”

    My son recently put a high polish on his old Mustang. I’m going to add a star on the rear-view mirrors. Bianchin can have it for 99K, but he has to act quickly.

  7. For a gun that costs that much, to have as much real estate on the sides of the slide taken up with their roll marks or “I love me” engraving is just a non-starter. I might be convinced to spend a large sum on a very, very well made 1911, but there better be a vast majority of the slide left open for my engraver to work on it.

    They make the same mistake I see so many making: “Birthed of solid American 4140 Billet Steel …”

    One of these days, I want to roll up to one of these outfits with an 18 wheeler carrying a couple of billets and roll them off into their parking lot, crack open a cold beer and watch with amusement as they try to deal with just one billet.

    That said, it is nice to see someone do a nice polish and classic blue job on a modern gun.

    • Isn’t a billet just a rolled out ingot? Like a continuous form bar, something like 6″x6″ or 8″x8″ and 30-40′ long?

      So what they (and others) keep calling “billet steel” is really just a tiny chunk of an actual billet?

      • They’re making their guns from what is known as “bar stock.” Bar stock is what you get when you further process billet steel into a size or form for customers of the steel industry.

        A “steel billet” is an unfinished piece of steel. Often, billets will be, oh, about 5+ inches square, about 20 to 40′ long.

        A billet of aluminum will be a round cylinder, oh, 9 to 18″ in diameter, a trucklength long (or longer).

        The point is, production machine or manufacturing shops don’t typically work with billet steel. Another metal mill will take billet material and roll/draw/extrude/forge, then heat treat the billet metal into a shape and specification more useful as the input into the manufacturing process. There’s cold-rolled bar stock and hot-rolled bar stock, and possibly other ways of getting your input steel into a manufacturing process. You can order steel with pre-hardening, or heat treated, tempered and pre-relieved.

        Odds are very high, tho, that no one is lopping off a chunk of actual billet steel and whittling it down with a VMC to make a 1911.

        If we wanted to equivocate and claim that ‘all steel started as billet sometime’ then we would also say that gun barrels are made out of billet steel. They started as a billet of 4140, then we just ignore the fact that someone processed that billet to make round bar stock about 1.250+ in diameter, and lopped it off into blanks that were 28 to 34 inches long, and then heat treated it and possibly stress relieved it. Mere details, right? No one seems to try claiming that they’re making their barrels out of “billet” – just their frames/receivers and other such.

  8. Bells and whistles that don’t need to be there. Its nice yea, but a 1911 is a 1911 no matter what you do to make it more flashy. That guy out shooting you with a $700 1911 may not have as nice of a gun, but he’s not out a few thousand for a brand name. (Cabot)

    • That’s true for any gun.

      If all you want is a shotgun that emits shot out the muzzle when you yank the trigger, you could buy a very low-end shotgun like a Mossberg 500, a Remington 870 or similar gun.

      There’s more than a brand name on Cabot’s products; look carefully at their guns or even just the photos of their guns, and you’ll see there’s a level of finish and fit that isn’t on other guns. There used to be their level of finish on some of Colt’s 1911’s, and today those highly finished 1911’s are worth more than Cabot’s guns.

      Some people want to see a piece that makes no excuses and no limitations. That’s why the Parker A-1 grade was made, that’s why Holland and Holland is still in business, etc.

      Down the road, there’s no question which gun is a better investment. Guns with the best fit and finish possible at the time always command the premium later on.

      If all you want is functionality, then why bother with a 1911 at all, when a Hi-Point will launch bullets just as well? The only steel you really need on a pistol is in the barrel. You can get by with die-case slides and plastic frames, right?

      • Personally, I’m in favor of bells and whistles on firearms, if what that means is features that add durability, functionality, or beauty to a gun, but which are rare because of the cost inherent in producing them. If all Purdey had to offer was a good rust bluing job, they would not cost what they do.

        I find it fairly shocking that the offered proof of accuracy is Zins’ performance in NRA pistol championships. He’d already won the National 10 times with 1911’s of other makes, including at least a few tuned at Quantico. He did not improve his personal best score when he shot with the Cabot.

        • You’re right. Guns like Purdeys are finished even on the inside. They’re using very high-figure wood in their stocks, their barrels, actions, etc are all hand-polished into the tight spaces (which you can’t do on a buffing wheel), their screws are all timed, there’s engraving added to the metal, the wood has a very tight fit to the action, etc. All of that takes labor. It isn’t just “the finish” but what it took to accomplish that finish. And, BTW, rust blueing isn’t as easy as dunking a gun in the hot salt tank. There’s some real skill involved to get the rusting chemicals applied very evenly in rust blueing. If you have drips, runs or sags, you’ll see it in the blue job.

          As for Zins’ score: Last I knew, he was shooting over 2600 out of 2700 possible, with over 120X out of 270 possible. For the uninitiated in scoring a target, that means he’s dropping the vast majority of his rounds into the 10 ring, with a few inside the 9. There comes a point for every competitive shooter where your ability to improve (or even replicate prior wins) starts declining, and he might well be at that age where improvement in what the gun can achieve is masked by what Gunny Zins can’t continue to achieve. That’s life, and sometimes it isn’t kind to us older folks.

          This is why I keep thumping the table for the use of Ransom Rests. If a pistol is in a machine rest, then we have a way of producing repeatable, comparable results. If Cabot can afford a high-end CMM, then they can afford a Ransom Rest.

  9. Can someone explain how one Cabot is better than 2 Les Baer Ultimate Combat Master 1911s? Or for that matter 9 Rock Islands? Are they made of unobtainium? Unicorn ivory grips? Hand carved from steel billet made of moon ore? Because that would be awesome and totally justify $6k for a range toy. Rich people >__< I'm sure they're super nifty though. I'll refrain from any P.T Barnum quotes.

    • See Dyspeptic’s posts above.

      I get what you’re saying, I own a Rock Island 1911 that is the epitome of utilitarian. GI sights, cheap Hogue grips and some substantial holster/life wear. BUT, it has never failed to go bang, ever. Is the Cabot outrageously priced? Yup. Would I buy it if I could afford it? Definitely.

      • The Cabot is for the collector. Most of us have a more utilitarian use for our guns. The fine guns that DG talks of are as much art as they are gun. There is a place for them in our world. Just not in my safe.

        • They are pretty, but even if I had the money, there are some other fantastic custom 1911s out there that don’t cost as much as a new motorcycle. I kinda get it though. It’s art. Sort of. Art is hard to define, it’s one of those “I’ll know it when I see it” things. I don’t see it here, I’m such a philistine.

  10. I’ve owned custom 1911s built by a lot of the big names since the1980s.

    All of mine say “Colt” on the side. Some have cost (almost ) as much, but I would not spend $6K for any 1911 that does not start with the original.

    Obviously, just my personal opinion. Not trying to start a flame war.

    • “Isn’t that sound just fabulous, life-like? What? You don’t notice the difference? You’re deaf? How much for the tube amp? Not much. It’s rather basic. Perhaps $6,000. You, on the other hand, can probably enjoy listening to MP3’s, can’t you?”

  11. I would so own one of these. How do you put a price on art. To some it is just paint and canvas, but to me I see a Van Gogh. Now which kidney should I sell to get one

  12. Hmm… With $6000 you could buy 10 Ruger P95s and have enough left over for 1000 rounds of ammo for each of them. But I guess if you’ve already got 10 Ruger P95s and 10,000 rounds of ammo and you’ve still got $6000 burning a hole in your pocket have at it. I’m a little too practical myself.

  13. Say what you will about the price, but having checked out their website I can honestly claim that I will gladly kill for their Southpaw. As a left-handed 1911 enthusiast, I have long since learned to work the slide stop with my index and drop the mag with my middle finger. Likewise, I have an ambi safety on all my 1911’s. But would LOVE the idea of a ground-up lefty model that recoils left and would allow me to work the controls with my thumb. Would I pay $5K for it? If I had that much, YES! In a heartbeat.


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