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Old 11-14-2005, 02:12 AM   #1
Janq
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Thumbs up OT Gun Nuts: Range Report - S&W 1911PD Scandium Commander

So I went to the range today and spent two hours working on various items including close range shooting from the hip as well as firing at speed in groups of 5 at center mass as well as 3 with two CM and 1 to the face/nose or neck.
As my personal guns include a SA 1911-A1 Compact which is basically a Lightweight Combat Commander (4.25") barrel I decided to best get some real practice in by renting S&W's equivalent which as per the website equates to the 1911PD. Oh no not that again was my first thought as my last expereience with it was with high suck factor. But it was a rental and so I stuck witht he plan figuring I'd ask to tray a gun specifically different than the one I'd had last.
Wow am I glad I gave this a second try...

At the counter I told the range officer that I'd like a 1911 in Commander format and the lightest in weight available though specifically without Crimson Trace grips. he handed over a 1911PD that for those who know the product line was no different than last years 1911SC it being dark/black Scandium and of course light but strong, stronger than it's base aluminum.
So I take it and two boxes of Winchester Whitebox along with several sillouhette and 25 yard bullseye targets.
I won't talk about the guns visual condition as this thing was obviously well used as it had zero oil and appeared to be drier than sand while being just plain filthy throughout. The only lubricant of a sort was that of gun shot residue through out the slide, outer surface of the barrel, ramp, and the nose of the slide as given to me was heavily greyed with residue. It wasn't looking good. I normally carry FP-10 with me in my kit in the event of such cases but did not break it down to oil it up as I figured lets shoot it to get an idea of what it'll do under less than optimal maint & care conditions.
Below is a picture of the first three volleys I shot through it totalling 14 shots and zero misses with 1 round being a dud (bad primer) toward a 25 yd. bullseye target at 25'.



Yeah, I was to say the least a good bit of pleasantly surprised.
Oh and I forgot to mention that the left grip panel was loose which I attempted to tighten before first fire but it seemd the bushing had come loose from the frame and required a bit of Locktite. It wasn't swimming too bad but it was to me immediately noticeable upon grasping the grip.
Anyway wow this gun shoots and 100% better than the last 1911PD I'd tried which was a full size govt. model. But then I recall the feeding issues I'd had witht he previous so I threw some more ammo at it again not cleaning it or adding lube. Two hours and 200 rounds later I found myself smiling from ear to ear over this gun as well as chatting with the on duty range officer about it's accuracy which is IMHO and his excellent for a stock out of the box gun 1911 or otherwise. Other than the one round that did not fire upon pin strike I had zero issues with this well worn and used though definitely not used up firearm.
Below are pics of shots as I was into my third box of ammo at a range of 45' firing first left handed off bench followed by right hand.



Note the two zingers at the 8 and 9 ring with 'X' marks next to them. They were my third and fifth shot while firing from my left hand and shooting with both eyes open with right eye dominance.
The neck shots directly above at 12 O'Clock were all fired right hand and both of these standing neither from a shooting rench or bench.
Below is a closeup of those five neck shots.



This guns Novak sights seem to be setup for a POA/POI at out to 25'. Beyond that the POI climbs at nearly a foot at 45' or more. Thats not too unusual for a .45 though I'm not used to as much with my own guns the flat shooting factory Sig GSR (aka 'Laser Gun') or the also relatively flat shooting SA Commander which was accurized & tuned by its previous owners smith.
Even still with it being so dirty, dry and very likely abused the gun was shooting very well considering it's not even somethign special. Also although the gun only weighs 28oz unloaded firing it is at least for me quite manageable and frankly felt no different than shooting a steel 1911 in so far as vibration is concerned. I'd have stayed and put another 100 rds. through it if not for the fact that I had to get back home as per scheduling.
Below are pics of me firing again left and right handed mix only now at the ranges max distance of 50'. Note every shot hit paper and were inside the sillouhette including one at 50% against it's right arm as fired left handed. At this range I cannot see where my hits are so I'm pretty much shooting blind aiming only at center mass and using both front & rear sights trying to be consistent shot to shot. Again keep in mind point of aim varies by a good foot from point of impact with this gun at this range.



With my last five rounds I setup a fresh bulls eye target at 45' and with aim using what is referred to as a 'pumpkin on a post' aiming method of placing the target directly above the top of the front sight blade I shot all of these using my right hand taking my time and shooting slow for utmost accuracy. The range officer at this point was standing over my shoulder observing so I was a tad nervous from being watched but the results speak for themselves with three shots in the same ragged hole and two outliers just a tad north.



Bottom Line: This gun shoots and would make for a great combat or CCW!
The range officer stated that contractors going over to Iraq/Afghanistan have been coming in buying these and the full size model in droves as they and Glock 45's are proving to the best guns to retain accuracy as well as knock down power while functioning at a high level amongst the fine grit sand over there. After todays experience I can see exactly why thet is and frankly I'd do the same.
Secondly todays expereience underlines the fact that rental guns do not always reflect the quality or capability of the model or product line. The 1911PD I'd had prior was much newer and in far better condition as well as having been oiled yet it suffered horribly and shot badly. Then here this gun with no help suffers 200 rounds of abuse and had not one hiccup. For those out looking at guns always try everything and if something doesn't work right try it again only in a different sampling as the extra effort may likely be worth the effort.

The Smith & Wesson 1911PD Scandium .45 ACP Commander is IMHO a buy with two thumbs up.
If I didn't have my SA I'd be looking at this as a carry or combat/working weapon.


http://www.smith-wesson.com/webapp/w...-1&isFirearm=Y

- Janq
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Old 11-14-2005, 02:33 AM   #2
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S&W's 1911 pistols have been solid contenders eversince they put them on the market. I have one in .38 super. Strong groupings, BTW.
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Old 11-14-2005, 02:57 AM   #3
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D,

I have a review coming up toward the Doug Koening 1911 competiton gun in .38 super.
I'd put 100 rounds through that last weekend and boy was that gun the tits.
Recoil out of it in this format out of a full steel gun is so mild i'd liken it to shooting a 22 Magnum, easy.
I'd mintended to post on it first but my targets toward that effort are in the trunk of the STi and I was too lazy to suit up and venture out into the cold.
More to come toward it though and several revolvers while next on my to do list is the vaunted Model 41 .22 target gun. I had a taste of it during the qualification phase of my MA LTC class but that was only 30 or so rounds at 25'.

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Old 11-14-2005, 03:09 AM   #4
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Yes, the .38 super is one of the most overlooked rounds and I still don't know why. Although i'd rather have something bigger for home defense, you really can't beat it in every other aspect. Plus, if you had to use it for home defense it would be just fine.
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Old 11-14-2005, 11:59 AM   #5
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Agreed.

I'd shot a 38 Super before through revolvers which was okay but they weren't all that accurate and I walked away feeling like meh.
I'd actually skipped over the DK 1911 at first and choose the 1911PD fullsize/Government model that I'd originally tried and was having all manner of issues with. The range officer seeing I was not having fun brought out the DK along with 150 rounds to play with.
In the 1911 format boy does that round come alive and with such velocity resulting in noticeably quick cycle times as well as soft recoil I could shoot it like a staple gun and shoot sngle holes with the thing even out to 50' which is phenonmenal.
Yep the 38 Special is kind of small/light for defense use as one shot drop is concerned but the up side is that with it's mild recoil shot placement is super easy as you know as well as consistency shot to shot. I plan to talk about that in more detail when I do the review.
But yes the 38 Spec. rocks and the ammo isn't all that spendy either relative to .45.

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Old 11-14-2005, 12:10 PM   #6
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I carry a Glock .40, but my BUG is a .38 special. Classic snubnosed revolver, easy to conceal.

Good review on the 1911, but definitely not my style.

Next gun will probably be a Sig Mosquito. .22LR = good times. I looked at one last time I went to the range and it felt AWESOME in the hand.

I honestly believe that .22LR is still an okay defense round.
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Old 11-14-2005, 12:19 PM   #7
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HOV,

I agree regarding .22LR toward target as well as defense following the same concpet basis as with the .38 Special as shot placement and shot to shot consistency is superior with such a light load. Yes it's not macho or a popular position but hospitals and morgues say .22LR kills people just as dead as 9mm, both of which folks walk away from when shot in non-vital areas be it arms, legs and lower torso.
It's much easier to with repeatable accuracy hit the death triangle at the head (across the eyes and down to the mouth) or even outside of the target wearing very heavy winter clothing at center mass too. I think the 22LR makes for a good all around caliber as do European special police forces too.
Soon as I'm MA legal with a LTC I'll be ordering that Marvel Precision .22 conversion for 1911's that is featured on my OT Christmas list. I hope to give Bullseye competition a go and will apply that top end to one of my officer frame 1911's.

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Old 11-14-2005, 12:31 PM   #8
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I'm actually getting to be in the market for 1911 variant for recreational shooting, home defense, and occasional CCW. Although I have small hands, SubEd's full-frame 1911 is the best handgun I've had the opportunity to shoot, and I think that a .45ACP would fit my requirements well.

If you had to list out the "cream" of the 1911 crop for different applications, which would you reccomend?
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Old 11-14-2005, 01:01 PM   #9
Janq
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Khaos,

The 1911 comes in multiple formats/sizes with essentially three differing slide lengths and two grip types the same size differing only by height.

Below is a pic of my guns showing the three 1911 formats and sizes...



In order of appearance:
Tournament paintball marker - AKA 'Excalibur' .68 caliber w/1911 Full size frame grip
Full size/Government - SigArms 'GSR' 1911 .45 caliber
Medium size/Commander - Springfield Armory 'Compact' lightweight combat commander 1911 .45 caliber
Small size/Defender - Colt 'Defender' 1911 .45 caliber
Nextel i60c cell phone [To provide a sense of relative scale]

One of the upsides IMHO about the 1911 is that regardless of your individual hand size the relatively slim single stack frame allows for pretty much anyone including smaller sized women and even kids/teens to get a good grip on the frame and have proper trigger finger contact and pull (it matters!) as result of it being a single stack and slimline. You can even very easily via just two screws upgrade to ultra slim grip panels if you prefer even less width or upgrade to thicker than normal panels if you have monkey hands. I have regular sized palms with relatively long fingers and as such not too many SA's feel comfortable to me and as such my accuracy drops off. The 1911 format for me and many is the cats meow for sake of repeatable accuracy alone which in my mind is far more important as related to defense never mind sport than having 10, 15, 20 or 30 rounds per clip available to me to miss the target with.

As for cream of the crop I won't even go there as thats like asking whats the best car and you know how that can go. Further I don't feel qualified to say so I won't comment to it.
I will though say that more often with any gun it's not the gun but the shooter in so far as accuracy is concerned. I've seen that happen with my own guns as my shooting buddy can out shoot me with any one of them so blaming the gun or it's components is IMHO fubar to a large degree although it's very popular to do just this same as it is in the car world to blame a wreck on RE92's and the pesky 15 mph turbo spool. Of course though you pretty much get what you pay for and quality will do more to take your further as your skill progresses with practice. So if you do buy don't feel the need to blow your mortgage money on an STI or custom built Caspian parted 1911 but at the same time Sig, Kimber, Colt, Springfield Armory, S&W, Rock River Arms Para Ordinance and Dan Wesson offer fine quality and generally broad selections of 1911's at various build quality as well as price points to fit nearly anyones budget or desire. I would IMHO stay away from Norinco 1911 clones for starting out as based on spotty reports from owners even though some do okay to good with reportedly some degree of gunsmithing and tuning.

Oh, and PM SubEd or BobTurismo as they both are IMHO knowledgeable toward 1911's and firearms in general.

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Old 11-14-2005, 01:11 PM   #10
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Thanks for the writeup, Janq. I've got a plain vanilla SW1911 that has never had a FTE or FTF, but it is a bit on the heavy side for all day carry, and I'd sure like something a bit lighter. I've often been interested in commander lenght and smaller 1911 designs, but been leery of the really short barrel ones, due to the return spring length issue.
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Old 11-14-2005, 01:29 PM   #11
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Jamz,

I tell you this SW 1911PD (used to be called 1911SC) made of uber-hard Scandium metal is both very light as well as tough. All it's pieces and parts are good though I can't comment directly toward fit & finish as the gun I used was well worn and looked to have been in the rental cabinet for a long time just based on wear alone.
But with all that and it being dirty as hell never mind not a drop of lube evident it shot amazingly well. People pay gun smiths money to get as good a result from lesser quipment and still have to keep it clean & lubed to do as well at the ranges I was shooting at. I was impressed although my first expereience with a nearly new full size variant was totally the opposite. Possibly these things require several boxes of ammo through them to loosen up and work right, I don't know.

As for very short barrel 1911's there has only been two that have proven to work well inmy own experience and thats the Colt 'Defender' and the Kimber 'Ultra-Carry'. In fact it was a rental experience with the 4.25" Ultra-Carry that got both myself and my shooting buddy to begin seriously thinking about and later ultimately convert to 1911's. The Defender is unique in that it has a dual captured recoil spring setup that allows for optimal cycling for purposes of reliability across a range of loads while at the same time offering a recoil impulse thats to many very similar to that of a large Commander.

I've heard bad stuff though about other folks short barrel 1911's such as the Para-Ordinance Warthog and such. Aside from the two above I'd stick with full size and commanders which are battle proven and tough old are on the come back against double stack SA's.

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Old 11-14-2005, 03:52 PM   #12
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Sounds good. I'm going to be in Springfield either this week (not likely) or next week (More likely). Maybe I'll stop by there and check one out.

If you pick up the 1911PD, would you consider selling the one of yours it replaces? maybe recoup some funds? If so, I'd be in the market.

-James
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