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As of 9:31 am, Wilson Combat has sold 62 examples of their new “Contemporary Classic” Centennial 1911, at $4000 each. Thirty-eight more orders and the limited run will be done. Hakuna mutata. When a company known for manufacturing some of the most highly coveted, meticulously crafted 1911s on planet Earth celebrates the 100th anniversary of the first 1911 with a repro weapon, it’s collector catnip. The question is: just how faithful is Wilson’s new, limited edition Centennial to the design and spirit of the original 1911?

Instead of a slavish historic recreation, Wilson took the WWJMBD (What Would John Moses Browning Do) approach.

When considering a special gun to pay tribute to this important anniversary and this extraordinary man, we wondered what would John Moses Browning create today if he had Wilson Combat engineering and manufacturing quality at his disposal and the benefit of seeing how his creation had evolved in the last century?

And the answer is . . .

IMHO, the world’s greatest gun designer would ditch the 1911 entirely and build a polymer pistol or something rad like the Chiappa Rhino. Wilson sees it from an understandably anachronistic, oxymoronic point of view, as the “Contemporary Classic” description indicates.

They’ve used old-fashioned materials (“forged and billet machined carbon steels, select walnut for grips and painstakingly hand-finished bone charcoal blue from Doug Turnbull”) in an evolved design (“checkering fore and aft for enhanced grip, better sights with a gold bead insert front blade, and better ergonomic controls like a beavertail grip safety”).

The press release reveals more morphing:

Browning’s original features still remain like an integral lanyard loop attachment for field use and flat mainspring housing and long, steel trigger that will still fit most hands perfectly a century later. We added our carry cuts to the front of the slide in deference to Browning’s second greatest handgun design, the GP-35 or “Hi-Power”, a feature that gives a the slide distinctive silhouette and enables easy holstering.

One thing’s for sure: the Wilson Combat Centennial is no safe queen. Except that it will be. Oh c’mon, admit it. For every wealthy buyer who straps his $4000 Wilson to his hip to protect life and limb, there’s ten who’ll salt the gun away in a humidity controlled safe. And there’s nothing wrong with that, is there?

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