Very pretty little gun, and a fun shooter!
It’s a cliché that we live and learn, even if intellectual dishonesty and doubling down on failure seems to be the order of the day in the 21st.C. OK, let’s not go there and move on to a happier conversation. I was wrong, I admit it and I’m fixing it.
I like 1911s and have ever since I got out of the army and discovered that the clapped-out, bodged-together relics in our arms room were not what the 1911a1 was supposed to be. A brief stint at Detonics showed me what the 1911 could be, and IPSC competition showed me what it could do in skilled hands. Other skilled hands, not mine.
It’s not the perfect handgun, but it does have it’s virtues. We’re not here to debate that, but rather to get to the part where I was wrong. It is my preference to have a highly textured grip-frame and mainspring housing on my 1911-based guns. 20 lpi checkering makes a real difference in control when striving for speed as well as accuracy, and I thought hat sufficient. My main grip on the handle is front-to-back, so as far as I was concerned the grips could be smooth and it wouldn’t matter. Hell, I went so far as to say they could be greased and it would be fine.
I like to do things with my hands, and I like to learn things. This last week I thought it was time to put the stock-checkering tools I picked up last year to work and learn how to use them. This reinforced the difference between ‘simple’ and ‘easy.’ Checkering stocks, while more complex than you might think, is pretty simple. But it ain’t easy. Nonetheless I stuck with it, and in a few hours had produced a serviceable set of 1911 grips.
Mind you I’ve always liked the look of checkered grips on a 1911, and I tossed them on the Street Racer and they felt great. Well crap. So I did a bit of shooting, and while honestly I’m not good enough to reap the potential benefits of such a small change it felt better. So I did another set for the competition gun and it too felt better. Bugger.
As often as I’m wrong you might suspect I enjoy it, but I don’t because then I have to admit it and either change or walk around knowing that I’m lying to myself. As unpleasant as it is to change it’s better than that.
This really does seem like a ‘duh’ sort of thing; it has been the conventional wisdom for about as long as there have been handguns. I mean, I do like a fair bit of texture on other handguns, but because of the way I grip a 1911 I deluded myself that it didn’t apply in that specific case. Except as everyone but me probably knew it does.
So I am going to keep developing my checkering skills; I definitely have a rifle-stock or two that could benefit and I like mastering new skills. And yes, my 1911s will be wearing checkered grips. I guess you’re never too old to discover you’re doing it wrong. Time to choke down a nice slice of humble pie and move on.
Stay safe and take care,
Michael Tinker Pearce, 19 June 2022
… for me, not you.
As readers know I recently decided to up my game in the EDC department. I typically feel comfortable, as a civilian in my specific circumstances, with guns as modest as a J-frame .38-Special revolver. But I have re-evaluated my threat profile and decided some things.
Times change and we need to adapt as they do. For many years the type of threats that I faced in my day-to-day circumstances were modest and vanishingly unlikely. Me getting into a self-defense shooting is still pretty unlikely, but we are in a phase during which our society is under increasingly under threat by attack from radicals of one sort or another. My local supermarket can no longer be considered an ultra-low-threat environment.
Mass-casualty shooting events are distinctly on the rise, and by their nature they can strike anywhere people gather. My neighborhood is attractive to radicals of a certain stripe due to it’s nature. It’s still unlikely, but it’s now on the radar.
Last and most importantly I need to be prepared to do the stupid thing. Apparently despite my best efforts I may not do the smart thing in the heat of the moment.
I want the my EDC to have the ability to:
*Engage quickly and effectively at longer ranges
*Get the most rounds on-target the fastest at common civilian self-defense ranges
*Easily conceal the gun under most anticipated circumstances and be able to deploy it quickly and effectively.
Because of real-life circumstances I cannot study up, determine the best gun and accessories for my needs, go buy it and train a lot. Previously I have not felt the need to upgrade and neither planned nor budgeted for it. While an upgrade is now a priority it will be some time before I can act on that. So in the meantime I need to find the best fit among the guns I have.
I’ve written about this gun before, how I got it, what I decided it was for and what I did to make it suit the mission. The intent was to make a carry-gun (Street) that was also suited to use in action-shooting matches (Race-gun or Racer.) I did this and was pretty happy with the results. However it is a full-size 1911a1, and it’s heavy and large. More importantly it did not win in the series of tests to determine which was my best option.
The winner of my current guns was the CZ P-07, and I doubt many will find that shocking. But another contender was still in the mix. I have significant capability to modify firearms, and these tests also indicated a better candidate might be available immediately.
The Street Racer Evolved
3.5″ 1911s like the Detonics Combat Master are shockingly good at short-range rapid-fire in the hands of someone practiced in their use.. The slide has a short stroke, less reciprocating weight and in tests cycle up to 30% faster than a conventional, full-sized 1911. They fall down a bit at long range because of the shorter sight radius, but in practice at ranges up to 25 yards this has not been an issue for me. It’s not a new idea to combine the short slide and barrel with a full-sized frame for added control, and such guns are very capable in the hands of a good shooter that is familiar with them.
I tested this concept a bit and discovered that it performs enough better than the stock CZ P-07 to counter the P-07s higher capacity. I mounted a 3.5″ 9mm 1911 slide, barrel and recoil assembly on the Street Racer (which necessitated only changing to a 9mm ejector) and tried it out. It performed very, very well.
For initial testing I did not alter the dust-cover on the frame so that I could convert it back to a full length gun. Upon reflection I could not determine any reason to go back; in it’s new configuration the gun will perform better in the kind of competition it’s intended for so I proceeded.
The Final Exam-
The extra five rounds in the CZ weighed heavily in it’s favor. A final test would be needed.
In the Texas church shooting the attacker was stopped with a single 15-yard head shot, and as arbitrary standards go that seemed reasonable enough. So the last, deciding test was this: to draw from concealment and reliably make a head-shot at 15 yards in three seconds or less.
I could do this with the new 9mm version Street Racer, but the CZ P-07s double-action first shot stymied this. I missed a significant percentage of the shots with the CZ. Making the shot reliably took significantly longer than three seconds. With this as a go-no-go standard the Street Racer was the best choice.
You Knew There’d be Caveats…
This is the best choice for me at this moment. But this is based on a lot of factors, not the least being that I have put tens of thousands of rounds through guns based on the 1911 platform, the fact that I am a large man and can conceal a large gun better than persons of average stature, I have physical and vision factors due to my age that may influence this, competition shooting experience with the 1911 (mostly decades ago but it’s still a factor) and the fact that I can start using the platform immediately. In other words your mileage may, almost certainly will vary.
It’s also temporary, because the CZ P-07 has greater potential down the road. Converted to single-action to eliminate the first-shot issue, improved trigger, possibly sights and ergonomics and, most importantly, after significant practice it will almost certainly be a better mousetrap. Over time I’ll make these changes, do the practice and when/if that day comes I’ll switch.
If you’re new to this my advice would be to research the best carry guns and accessories, go to a range where you can rent the guns and try them. See which one works best for you in terms of shooting and concealability across a broad variety of conditions, then practice, practice practice. When you’ve gotten as good as you feel you’re likely to start researching and considering which enhancements might improve your performance.
We’re all individuals. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Find what works for you and go with it.
Stay safe and take care,
Michael Tinker Pearce, 5 June 2022