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Saturday, January 14, 2017

Final Retirement of the S&W Sc 1911 Platform

This will be my third and final review of the wonderful commander sized Smith 45. I am retiring it for good. This does not mean that I will necessarily sell it, or not wear it here around the farm, but for off-duty/LEOSA carry, it is gone. I have worn it daily for well over a year, and fired some 4700 round through it. It is a handsome gun, well fitted, and very accurate. I consider it reasonably reliable, that is to say, as reliable as 1911 platforms go. The plunger/tube/spring assembly did blow out around 1000 rounds, but this is NOT an unusual occurrence with this platform. Smith & Wesson fixed it promptly and at no cost to me. BUT if it had happened during a violent incident, life might not be so pretty as it is today. Then at about 3300 rounds it became erratic in reliability. Through research, I learned that in the 1911 guns, you replace the recoil and firing springs every 2500 rounds. Wolff came through for about seven bucks, and I was back in business. But this means I should have to keep count of all rounds fired in order to maintain reliability (I did with this piece anyway, because this was a whole new experiment for me, and I had planned to do reviews). But I shouldn't HAVE too.
Below you see her under the bright lights. Gorgeous, even with safety and holster wear marks.
 This side shows some wear marks also, but not unreasonable considering thousands of rounds, and daily carry.
 Then there is the 45 ACP caliber. Effective for sure (mostly), and a stopper for sure if bullet placement is on spot on. But after the Orlando incident (and some several others) I began once again to ponder capacity. Nine rounds of 45 or 18 rounds of 9mm? Thirty years ago, this might have been a no brainer. But what REALLY counts, is what is working in the professional field. Now that we are shooting perhaps the eighth generation of 9mm, it is working superbly. Just as well as any other rounds, at a LOT less cost, faster between shot accuracy, and a lot less recoil. And a LOT more in gun capacity. Just so you know, if I were back in patrol status, I would NOT recommend the nine. 357 Sig has it all over the 9 and the .45 for barrier penetration and integrity. And power. But as a LEOSA carrier, barrier penetration is in all probability not going to be my gig. I will not have to shoot through windshields, car doors, warehouse walls, to end a bad situation. Uniformed heroic cops have that job, and 357 Sig is superb. But for me, it is back to the 9mm. Below you see the 45 ACP 185grain +P Golden Saber. If I could stuff 18 in the 1911, and shoot it as fast and accurately as a nine, I would. But I cannot, and neither can anyone else. My LEOSA qual expires for the 1911 in April, and I will not renew. Several further observations about the 1911 platform - the thumb (manual safety) can (and has) be unknowingly flipped off, thus making this a cocked weapon. Not safe at all. The Smith has an ambidextrous safety so when the several times I found mine flipped to the off position, I am not sure which side got bumped. Probably the right (outer one). If I were to keep this as a carry piece I would switch out the ambi safety for a strong side only. To be sure, I have climbed trees, built chicken houses, ATVed in thick woods, stacked hay, and sheared sheep carrying this, so perhaps the safety issue wouldn't effect you as much. Second observation. I carried this for 10 months in a Fobus non-locking retention holster. It fell out during high activity, and after about six months the holster became loose enough that I could hear a slight rattle when I moved. Not good. Dinging the Fobus paddle holsters for the Safariland paddle ALS mentioned below. Thirty nine bucks, and comes with a paddle AND a belt slide.
 Below is the M&P9 that I now carry for a LEOSA weapon. It is the same dimensions in all aspects ( width, height, length) as the 1911 but slightly heavier when fully loaded. I carry it in a Safariland ALS paddle daily now. This gun is as accurate and faster accurate as the 1911, holds twice as many rounds, is a third cheaper to buy ammo for, and I now have almost 7000 rounds through this gun. Zero malfunctions. None. Nada. Nunca. Clean it when you want. No rush. Drop it, wet it, dirty it, it doesn't matter. It just keeps on shooting. The M&P pistols have displaced all my Glocks. As a matter of interest, one of my firearms instructors fired my M&P and stated he'd never shot a handgun that shot as "butter smooth". And I was a Glock purist from the very beginning (1987). With the just released 2.0 second generation M&P, I am quite excited. This was basically the armed forces submission I have been told. Much better trigger, stronger still, a bit more flex to the frame, and four grip inserts. I'll buy the compact version when that is released.
Below you see the Remington Golden Saber 124 grain +P 9mm round I carry. This is a very good defensive round, on par with the Winchester 147 grain Ranger T-series. I carry both with full confidence. While Winchester limits the Ranger T-series to L.E. only, it IS possible for non L.E. to obtain. Both exhibit great penetration and expansion.
So in conclusion, I love my 1911 45. I am intimately familiar with it, it is accurate, and it is fun to shoot. I'll carry it around the farm and woods (or my 1911 10mm). But, it is much more complicated, (ever totally tear down a 1911?) needs much more and careful maintenance, and costs a LOT to shoot. It also cost over three times as much as the M&P 9 when new.
For trusting my safety, and for saving those around me, I am back to polymer, and happy to say so.
Ugly, cheap, and utterly trustworthy. The M&P's or the Glocks (FNC moving right up there also), take your pick. To me, Glocks are totally antique at this point, but they ARE totally reliable and reasonably accurate, so try both and takes your pick!
Comments welcome!

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