It has been a while since I have added to Shooting from the Hip, but I am happy to be back and share another review with you. I am especially happy to share this particular review, since it is about my most recent firearm purchase. And what a firearm it is, too.
As many of you are certainly aware, this year marks the centennial anniversary of the adoption by the United States' military of the m1911 Colt Automatic Pistol, what many consider John Moses Browning's finest creation. I happen to be one of that particular group. I, and many others, feel that while this particular design may be one hundred years old, it is still a viable side-arm, with perhaps the finest trigger of any automatic pistol ever designed. And as I have never personally owned a 1911, I decided that this year would be the year to remedy that particular deficiency.
So, a couple of weeks ago, I went by my favorite gun shop, Tri-Cities Gun Depot (see my previous post for a review of this fantastic shop) to see what 1911s they had in stock. And they had several. There was, of course, a Centennial Colt; a beautiful Kimber; a new Remington (very glad to see them return to the 1911 game); a few Rock Island Armory pieces (very well-made Philippine guns, and very affordable, too); and one with which I was unfamiliar: the Metro Arms American Classic series, another Philippine gun. The particular model I was looking at was a very well-made pistol, a full-sized Government model with the 5" barrel. But there were some additions to this gun that you do not normally see on a stock pistol: a full beavertail grip safety, combat hammer, light-weight trigger with overtravel adjustment, three-dot Novak-style sights, extended magazine release, extended slide release, and extended thumb safety to boot. These guns have a nice blued finish, as well, rather than the Parkerized finish you see on many guns these days. And most importantly, the fit and finish on the guns I looked at were exceptional for a gun in this price range (sub-$500). The slide-to-frame fit, especially, was as good as a number of high-dollar guns I had looked at.
Faced with this unexpected choice, I decided to do some homework, and I searched the internet looking for information on these guns. To be honest, there is not a great deal, but I was able to find some reviews on a few gun forums (or fora, to those guys and girls I had Latin classes with), and for the most part, every review was positive. One thing that was brought up a few times is the fact that these guns include several MIM parts, but I discount this as a detraction since many "premier" gunmakers, such as Springfield and Kimber, include such parts as well. I did find that the slide and barrel are forged, which was an added bonus in my estimation.
So, having just about decided to make the American Classic II my newest addition, Tom at TCGD had to throw me another curve. He asked if I had seen the hard chrome version. I had not. To be perfectly honest, I am not much of a shiny gun kind of guy. I like black guns. They look like they mean business. You don't see fingerprints on them. They look like tools, not accessories. But as part of my research, I looked up pictures of the chrome version... and I was impressed. Impressed enough to want to see one in person. Now for the problem: the Gun Depot didn't have a chrome gun, and didn't know when they would be getting one. Hard to come by apparently, this shiny gun. Well, I could wait, right? Right...
As luck would have it, I did not need to wait. Tom got one in the next week. And it was love at first sight. This gun looks even better in person. The finish was excellent. The checkered wood grips, while not superb, are much nicer than those on the blued version. The fit was every bit as tight as on the ones I had previously fondled, er, I mean held. And the trigger was sweet, breaking at around 4 lbs, I estimate. Not much more than on the Colt Tom had in the case. And I knew that it had to be mine. And following a transfer of currency (the hard chrome is about $100 more than the blued version) and a nod from the TBI, it was indeed mine.
At home, a quick wipe-down and run a patch through the barrel to clear the packing grease and I proceeded to send fifty rounds of PMC Bronze 230 grain FMJ downrange without a single failure of any kind. As quickly as I could load the single magazine, I would then empty it nearly as quickly. And the accuracy of this gun is noteworthy. Recoil is almost negligible (the gun does weigh over 30 ounces). At thirty yards, all fifty rounds fell within a 6 inch circle, and this shooting standing free-hand about as quickly as I could pull the trigger. Very nice. I will update when I am able to get out again and shoot from the bench for groups.
All-in-all, I am very pleased with the ACII. I feel that it is a lot of gun for the money, and it just goes to show that you do not need to drop a couple of grand on a custom build in order to get a quality firearm. Since the ACII is full milspec, however, you can feel free to upgrade whatever you want, should you feel the need. I would recommend to anyone who is looking to celebrate the year of the Colt with a new 1911, stop by Tri-Cities Gun Depot, or your nearest gun shop, and check out the Metro Arms offerings. I think you will be impressed.
UPDATE: I recently posted a new entry on the ACII and a couple of upgrades that I have installed. The post can be seen here.