Photo: Scott Smith
The Model 1911A1 may be the finest fighting handgun ever built. It served the military in the trenches of France during World War I, the jungles of the Pacific islands during World War II, through the harsh winters of Korea, in the hot miserable monsoons of Vietnam, and on numerous small adventures during the Cold War.
In the mid-1980s, the military shifted from the 1911 to the Beretta M9/M92 with its 15-round 9mm magazines. Numerous law enforcement agencies began using the new polymer pistols offering high capacity 9mm and .40 S&W.
In the past few years, agencies found that these "plastic fantastics," while they held lots of cartridges, didn't fit many officers hands. And the new wonder bullets didn't perform that well on folks operating on mixed pharmaceuticals.
Forward-thinking agencies started to allow officers to carry the 1911 ("old slabsides") with its .45 ACP cartridges for a proven combination needed to work the rough streets. Agencies nationwide began authorizing private officer purchase or issuing 1911s. However, it's important to understant that the 1911 has shortcomings.
To help 1911 users diagnose, correct, and maintain their fussy firearm, the training arm of 10-8 Performance offers a 1911 diagnostics and operation course. The staff of 10-8 Consulting is made up of fulltime or retired officers who carry or carried 1911s as their duty weapon, including founder Hilton Yam.
This course is not an armorer's course; it's a course to show you how to tweak and enhance the performance of your 1911 and ensure that it runs properly. With very exceptions, 1911s need a tweak or two such as tensioning the extractor, cutting the proper groove in the extractor, or properly angling the ejector. These are common issues with even the finest of pistols. These issues are usually caused when manufacturers don't adhere to the original specifications, have poor quality control, or use poor materials or improper spring rates.
The 10-8 operation course starts with the basics of the operation cycle and issues that arise with poor timing or improper fitting of critical parts such as the link and barrel bushing. Other issues are caused by magazines that don't function properly. In most cases, these issues need to be repaired by a competent pistolsmith or armorer, but there are a few the end user can safely and properly repair. The course teaches you how to fix these minor issues.
The Operations Course also points out what makes the 1911 an ideal pistol—its accuracy, near-perfect ergonomics, and a straight-pull trigger that makes it easier to shoot. The 1911 also conceals well because it's flat and can be built or customized to fit the owner's needs. The 10-8 instructors will discuss what modifications you should not make. On the downside, you will learn the pistol requires proper building. The extractor must be properly fitted. The feedway (ramp) must be cut properly. And you, as the operator, must maintain the pistol. The pluses of the 1911 highly outweigh the minuses.
What sets the 10-8 course apart from others is the 50-round test. This test will stress your 1911 and show you its shortcomings, such as failing to properly extract spent cartridges. This portion of the course is worth the price of admission, because you'll have an opportunity to have the problems corrected by the 10-8 Performance team. You will have to cover the cost of any parts you need, but the key is they will be properly fitted and installed.
On the range, you'll also learn proper operation of the 1911 and skill-building drills. The range portion of the course is not a tactics course and will teach you how to properly use and keep your 1911 in action. You will pick up some good shooting skills and thoughts on how to carry your 1911.
I've been carrying and competing with a 1911 since the '80s. In my travels, I've been fortunate to learn a lot about this pistol; however this 10-8 Consulting course showed me many of the finer points of tweaking and keeping my 1911s in tip-top shooting condition. This course is a must-take training session, if you carry a 1911 on or off duty. You'll get a bunch of information and the 10-8 crew are fine shooters, pistol plumbers, officers and all around good guys.
Carrying a 1911 Pistol On Duty