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Friday, May 18, 2012

Gun Review: Metro Arms American Classic Commander 1911 .45ACP

For those of you who have been following this blog, you know that back in March of last year, I posted a review of the Metro Arms American Classic II 1911, which at the time I gave high marks.  More than a year later, my opinion of this pistol has not changed.  It continues to perform flawlessly (after having changed out the magazine catch, which I described in a post in June of 2011), and I am well pleased with this firearm.  Pleased enough, in fact, to purchase another Metro Arms 1911...  this time, the American Classic Commander.

Metro Arms American Classic Commander


As you may well know, the Commander is a somewhat shorter version of the American Classic II.  The latter is a full-sized, or ""government," model, having a full 5-inch barrel with an overall length of 8.375 inches, and weighing in at 37.28 ounces empty.  The Commander has a slightly shorter 4.25 inch barrel for an overall length of 7.5 inches, and a weight of 35.2 ounces.  Not a whole lot of difference.  In fact, the two models use the same magazines interchangeably.  Both have the same grip length, and the controls are placed in the same locations on the pistols, so muscle memory is not affected by switching from one pistol to the other the way it would be with a similar gun with a smaller form factor (like a compact 1911, or a Sig P238, for example).

The particular American Classic Commander that I chose was the deep blue model, which I purchased from my favorite local gun shop, Tri-Cities Gun Depot.  Unlike the ACII, which is the hard chrome model, my Commander has a rich, dark blued finish.  The bluing seems very even, without any noticeably light spots.  One thing I have noticed, though, since I have had the pistol, and something that has been mentioned on the firearms fora I frequent, is that manipulating the thumb safety has left some scratches in the bluing under the safety, as though there might be a burr or rough spot on the underside of the safety lever.  There was also a very light scratch under the slide-release when I first disassembled the pistol (the proverbial "idiot scratch"), I am assuming from the factory.  Neither of these are deal-breakers for me, especially considering this is going to be a carry gun (provided it meets my reliability requirements) and therefor will be subject to much wear, but I would have preferred a little better QC on this front.

Shown with 8-round ACT mag, 7-round flush fit mag not included


For the most part, this particular pistol seems as well-made as the Classic II.  All of the parts seem well-fitted.  Like the ACII, this model comes with the extended slide-stop, extended magazine release, full beavertail, and extended thumb safety.  The grip safety is a bit more loosely fitted than that of the ACII, but it is not loose enough that it rattles.  The thumb safety engages positively, the trigger is smooth and has very little take-up (it is fitted with an over-travel adjustment screw, too), and the magazine catch engages easily and releases the magazines freely.  The slide to frame fit is also very tight, but not so tight that it drags and causes feeding issues.  Also, like the ACII, the wood grip panels that come with the Commander are nothing to write home about.  Functional, but not fancy.  One thing I will point out is that should you desire to change the grips, the oversized controls may necessitate some minor alteration of the replacement grip panels to allow them to fit without interfering with the operation of the thumb safety and slide release.

Thus far, using four different magazines, I have fired one hundred seventy rounds through the Commander, and I have had one failure during that time.  The ACT magazine that comes with the Commander is the same 8-round mag that is sold with the Classic II, and I had no issues using that magazine.  Likewise, my Springfield, Colt, and Kimber 7-round magazines have thus far been flawless with this pistol.  The one failure to feed that I have experienced has been with a flush-fit 8-round Triple K magazine, and that was with the second round during the first time I used that particular magazine.  Subsequent uses did not result in similar failures, so I am chalking that one up to magazine break-in.  I have only fired 100 rounds of Blazer Brass and 50 rounds of PMC Bronze 230 gr. FMJ rounds, and 20 rounds of Hornady Custom 185 gr. XTP JHP through the pistol at this time (the single FTF was with the ball ammo).  Thus far, it looks as though the factory magazine catch is working well, so perhaps Metro Arms has addressed that particular issue.

Accuracy has been very good.  Out of the box, my point of impact was about four inches to the left at 50 yards, consistently.  The Commander, like the ACII, has adjustable 3-dot Novak-type sights, so this was easily and quickly remedied.  Recoil is stronger than with the 5" model, enough that it is noticeable, but still not enough to be uncomfortable.  These pistols are just a lot of fun to shoot.

I have been well-pleased with the Metro Arms Commander up to this point.  I will continue to post updates if anything changes, but it looks as though this company is continuing to manufacture and market an excellent line of firearms.  And at an excellent price point...  this particular gun is in the sub-$500 range, but runs like a top of the line model.  I think JMB would be happy.

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