As the 1911 moves through its umpteenth resurgence just about everyone and their closest relative is making a custom or semi-custom 1911 pistol. You know there is something to the increase in purchases when the "big boys" of the gun world who have never been in the 1911 market start building them. Of course, in many cases these companies actually started having someone else build 1911s for them.
Having carried a 1911 of one sort or another since 1983, I can tell you that it's only been the last few years that such an increase in manufacture has surfaced. Companies that decried the 1911 for their "new and improved" versions are now selling their own 1911 pistols. These pistols run the gamut from good, solid buys costing less than a grand to ridiculously expensive guns costing as much as $6,000.
Those $6,000 guns are works of art, and in this country (for now at least) you can spend your money as you see fit, but most people are not willing to pay that much on a pistol. They want a good, reasonably priced pistol, not a gunsmith's masterpiece.
Fortunately, there are companies out there that still produce great guns at a good price. You just have to know what to look for.
Which is not easy. The ability to machine parts to incredibly close tolerances has allowed the manufacture of AR platform rifle parts ad nauseam, and the 1911 has seen some of the same effect. This has resulted in a number of cookie-cutter guns out there, many of which work just fine. So you have to do your homework to find real quality in your price range.
Many gun buyers would rather not do the homework. They just choose a 1911 from a major manufacturer. Going with a big name is a reasonably safe bet, but some of the best firearms come from the little guy. It is the little guy that epitomizes the American spirit.
The first custom pistol I had was a stock 1911A1 that was sent to Bill Wilson, and he actually worked on it. Wilson Tactical is now one of the most acclaimed makers of 1911s, and there are spin-offs coming from people that worked there. To me, that is how it should be in this country. You start with a dream to build the better mouse trap and go about getting it done.
That's what appears to be going on at Kentucky-based DoubleStar Corp. The company has made a name for itself producing the Star-15 rifle. Now it's turning its entrepreneurial energies toward making a high-quality 1911 pistol.
The DoubleStar 1911 is the brainchild of Jack Starnes, president of J&T distributing and vice president of the new DoubleStar. J&T distributing has been providing quality AR-15 parts to the rifle community for 25 years. When DoubleStar moved into the AR-15 gun market with the Star-15, its employees brought all of their experience and attention to detail to the project. And now after spending some time with the new DoubleStar 1911, I can say they brought the same assets to the manufacture of this excellent combat pistol.
Simple and Functional
As I opened the very nice gun case the DoubleStar pistol comes in, a rather large smile came over my face. I'm old and a bit of a purist, so I find the simple things the most enjoyable. Many of the bells and whistles that I see on pistols these days are mostly pretty useless. Some of the baubles are nice to have, but for a pistol you take to work or depend on to save your life, the essentials are the most important.
The DoubleStar 1911 is pretty basic. Other than the ubiquitous light rail, the design is pretty much what John Browning intended with all of the functions and features exactly where an experienced 1911 shooter would expect them to be.
I don't intend "basic" as a criticism. Basic is not necessarily bad, and the DoubleStar has some great features. The grips are moderately aggressive Stryder grips, precisely what I have on my carry 1911. Other nice touches include the grip and thumb safety, both Ed Brown products. The grip safety has the larger "bump" called a memory groove, and the thumb safety is not extended. Both of these features have become necessities for me. This is a series 70 pistol, so no annoying firing pin safety in either the slide or grip, just as Mr. Browning intended.
The extended beavertail on the DoubleStar 1911 is useful especially with gloves, and I prefer my safeties and slide releases to be standard. A slightly extended magazine release allows for solid carry without worry of accidental activation. The front strap has a high cut and the checkering is 25 LPI. That is a nice compromise as it is aggressive enough for real world use, but not so aggressive that it causes pain during long training sessions.
DoubleStar has fitted this pistol with Novak white dot sights. They are easy to see, and they won't snag on equipment or clothing. The frame and slide are forged steel and have subtle but useful serrations. The magwell is beveled, but no large chute is in place.
All of the parts on the DoubleStar 1911 are American made, which is hard to do especially for the price. The pistol is finished in a nice and dark matte black finish. At first glance and handling, my first impression was: This is a simple pistol with just what you need to do the job.
Beautiful Inside and Out
I found more to like about this gun when I took it apart. The barrel on the DoubleStar 1911 is five inches long and match grade, and the ejection port has been flared for reliability. There is a nice and simple two-piece guide rod setup, and I was able to take the pistol apart with ease using no tools other than those supplied at birth.
After a bit of break-in time the drills commenced. Most of my range time was spent shooting at six-inch steel plates at ranges from 15 yards and in.
The DoubleStar 1911 comes with one black eight-round magazine that appears to be one of the ACT magazines just about everyone seems to be supplying these days. I used not only the included magazine, but a couple of 47D magazines, as well as a couple of Tripp Research 10 rounders. All of the magazines worked without issue. The trigger was crisp, with a bit of take up and a bit too much overtravel to suit me, but that is all about personal preference. In any case this is adjustable for those of us that would prefer to do so.
During the course of my range session, I found staying on the steel was a cinch. Just for kicks I put a magazine full of rounds on the steel at 25 yards, and it was dead on. So long as I did my job, this pistol put my shots where the front sight was placed. The sights are easy to pick up even with my 50-year-old eyes.
During much of my range session, I shot the DoubleStar 1911 with a Streamlight TLR1 weapon light attached and started from my thigh rig. The light had no adverse affects on function.
The range session gave me a chance to feed a lot of different rounds into the DoubleStar. Most of my shots were made with 230-grain ball, but I fired a variety of duty rounds (both +P and standard) and all functioned without issue. I finished with a magazine or so of 230-grain Gold Dot-which is our duty round-at 15 yards from off hand. I was very pleased with the results. All in all, it was a fun day and this pistol was a simple joy to shoot.
Retail price for the DoubleStar 1911 is about $1,200. That is a really good deal for a pistol of this quality. You can easily pay twice that for a pistol that will not shoot any better and even some that may not do as well.
This pistol is simple, and well designed. It has all the attachments you need without bells and whistles that would simply add cost, weight, or GQ factor.
My one complaint is the same one I have about many other pistols. You cannot go to work with only one magazine, so in my book manufacturers should sell a working pistol with at least three magazines. I understand why they do this. I've been in the gun business a long time, but I still don't like it. Even in off-duty carry mode you should have two magazines, so why just have one with the gun? Dealers love it; they sell magazines. But working pistols should be able to go to work out of the box without an extra trip to the store. That being said, this is an excellent pistol, one I would not hesitate to take to work tomorrow.
Lt. Dave Bahde is a 20-year veteran of South Salt Lake (Utah) PD and an experienced SWAT team leader and firearms instructor.